Interview with Barbara

Up until now here on the What if? blog, we’ve focused on giving you information on art and involving you in our creative process, also offering up bits and pieces of our evolving associated artworks along the way. But what about the inner workings of the project?

I interviewed Barbara, asking her all about the project, motivation, and her personal interest in ‘identity’, hoping to bring you more insight into the inspiration behind this whole project. Barbara told me about the idea that sparked it all: a YouTube video with philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler, who was talking about what it means if we say “gender is performative”.

Barbara recalls:

Next, Barbara explained to me how the artwork emerging from What if? took shape in her mind:

“I was looking for a performance setup for myself, as a violinist, so it would be one person onstage and this idea that I chould change who I am onstage and you could also see that in the music… I could go from classical music to pop music or from pop music to avant-garde music, or from avant-garde new music to metal or whatever… I could really just use the whole palette of possibilities. And I found that really fascinating.”

Another huge source of inspiration for Barbara was her students at the Medienhochschule Darmstadt where she was teaching multimedia at the time. Here she taught creative and tech-oriented young people who created music that was experimental yet in the more popular direction, such as electronica. Barbara gave them inspiration and source materials.

“I learned to love the music they made from what I offered them and from where they came from,” she told me. “We found this mix between popular music and new music and I could actually see that you can lure people into new music.” Not only was it encouraging to find latent interest in these students; Barbara began to think in new ways. “It [the interaction between her and her students] changes my approach to my own field, and that it also changes my approach to the field they came from.”

Encouragingly, some of these former students then participated in various of our calls for entries. Have a look at BOSSI‘s and Denim Szram‘s work as examples.

Another, perhaps unexpected source of inspiration, was viral videos such as Gangnam Style:

Finally, Barbara has a very personal connection to the topic of identity, having travelled extensively and lived in several countries. Not only that; her name in this context is significant! Listen here:


What’s your reason for exploring the topic of identity? Is there a specific reason why you follow or contribute to our project? Write us a message or leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you.

Featured image: Barbara Lüneburg photographed by Didier Riva

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