On Dec 2015 I visited Ruang Gerilya, an artist-run gallery in Bandung, where I got invited to present my work. On the one-day event I led a performance workshop, screened my recent videos and there was an open discussion. I enjoyed every minute! Gerilya folks also did an interview with me:
Ruang Gerilya: How do you create your work?
Anna-Sofia: I think my work is all the time changing and themes of interest keep forming as life goes on. So maybe that is one way of working for me, that I take big influence from the experiences I have or things I encounter in my life, travels or working. It is a combination of chance and active search for interesting ideas, phenomena, people, happenings, etc. Maybe it is a quest on how to see the world and life in general. I try to be open to the themes that seem actual for me, but which would also relate to others. I am very interested in the relationship between personal and common/private and public.
I get inspired about observing & traveling, colors, humor, social norms, presence, dancing and moving, and importantly the phenomena which fascinate me. So the starting point for my work can be something very specific like the dances of the birds of paradise or something broader like the question of ”how to be together”? And often these two ways of thinking and seeing get mixed, that something ”small” can reveal something ”big” about a broader issue. The question of communality continues to be important to me.
I work with various media: performances, installation, video, mixed media, photography, movement, text, costumes, sound and participatory projects. I have studied tailoring and theatre and now I study visual culture and contemporary art. I have done both solo and collaborative projects. The variety of different media and collaborating with different people makes working really interesting and valuable for me. I don’t have one favourite medium, or maybe my favorite is any medium that has the element of bringing people together and creating encountering between people.
RG: Why did you choose to do that?
A-S: I work in a multidisciplinary way with different media, depending on the project. I think that the content of the project defines the medium that is needed. I look for sincere, abstract, associative and metaphorical but easily approachable ways of expressing and researching different phenomena. I often work with an approach where first I have some kind of a theme for working and then I choose the medium how I would want to present it. With all of my projects something in common would be my aim to modify different spaces or situations both physically and socially.
RG: What’s been changing from your first artwork to the recent ones? Why so?
A-S: I started when I was maybe 14 years old with theatre as a hobby. I wanted to be an actress. And that dream stayed with me until I was maybe 22 years. After that I realized that I want to do more, I want to create my own small worlds, influence the content and be more active in other media too. My first solo performances were really autobiographical and personal. Now I have moved more to broader themes and to themes which are more outside from myself. And the element of visuality has been growing more and more in the few years. Or even this year, I think I have really started seeing more.
Nowadays besides artistic context, I get interesting ideas and base for my work from the social sciences and sociological perspective. Currently I am thinking how my work could combine more art and science.
RG: Who are your favorite artists?
A-S: Artists whose work I find interesting are for example Miet Warlop (Belgian visual artist), Forced Entertainment (UK based performance group), Katsuhito Ishii (Japanese movie director), Jerome Bel (French choreographer), Pipilotti Rist (Swiss video artist), Pilvi Takala (Finnish visual artist) and Maider Lopez (Spanish visual artist).
RG: What’s the best advice you ever got?
A-S: Trust your own exoticness.
Think more precisely what do you WANT to do or be, not how SHOULD you do or be.
Remember the surprise!
RG:What role does artist play in society?
A-S: I’m interested how an artist can with his/her work point out something which maybe would not be noticed. That is in life, world, society, relationships etc. I think art has a big role socially, it can be a strong tool for bringing people together. Maybe that is why I have first started with theatre, it was so nice to be part of a group with a common goal, sharing our work with a another group who come to watch.
I want to believe that art can influence and make a change. Artists have to stay open and willing to find creative ways to deal with also the problems our globe is facing. I think the role of an artist is changing quite fast to react to the changing conditions we are living in. And artists can create hope, communality, joy and encountering in the everyday life.