Six questions for
Anastasija (Nastija) Kiake

Tique asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Anastasija (Nastija) Kiake.

Artist Anastasija (Nastija) Kiake
Lives in The Hague, The Netherlands

How do you describe your own art practice?

I’m a visual artist, researcher, and writer. My artistic practice revolves around questions of how social, political, and psychological conditions are shaped by the economies of feeling, structures of violence, and value systems that I investigate by writing with forms of embodied experiences.

I like to work with different mediums such as painting, drawing, performance, sculpture and writing in long-term research projects and in forms of collaborations. Some of my projects are social and participatory, while others require more solitude to marinate in my studio before they acquire a social dimension. It depends on the process, subject, and material.

Which question or theme is central in your work?

I’m interested in language(s). Writing with is a method that differs from writing about. Acting with something is an act of a specific form of attention that is intimate and subjective. While about is a word that activates a descriptive impulse that is sometimes tempting to mistake for objectivity. The about invites you to answer a question, while the with is an entanglement of relations of your body woven into and by the world.

Translation is a big theme in my work. I never had the experience of having one mother tongue growing up, it was always a combination of multiple languages that were spoken around me. Later, when I had to leave my home country, I forgot one of my first spoken tongues while learning a new one. Remembering and forgetting is a peculiar relationship that has very little to do with the dis/appearance of something. I think about forgetting as a movement and transitioning into other forms. You can’t really forget a whole language as fragments of it are always kind of a part of your body. Sometimes it’s debris of grammatical accidents that morph speech into misunderstandings. Sometimes it’s waking up remembering fragments of songs that I don’t know the meaning of anymore. And sometimes it’s an emotional response that resonates in my muscle memory when I hear a specific word. In between, there are all kinds of scales of translation.

Remembering and forgetting languages shapes and performs the body, and our being in the world, as much as we shape the tongue that we speak with the body that is given to us by a soup of culture, social circumstances, and time.

What was your first experience with art?

The early ’90s in Latvia, where I come from, was heavily affected by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the hyperinflation, and an injured economy. Like many others, I grew up with my family working multiple jobs and making up their own creative solutions to make ends meet and sustain the household. My grandfather worked for the Latvian military at that time, but there would be a wood workshop in the kitchen where we built furniture and carved decorative kitchen devices that they tried to sell.

There was a period when they would collect metal that they sold for recycling. And during other periods, my grandmother worked in a concrete factory and earned a bit of money on the side by drawing. We were always dependent on the crops that were cultivated in our garden and the food that the forest provided.

In a way, it’s a variety of material knowledge, some intergenerational wisdom, and imagination that come together to form a resilience that carries you through difficult times. Artistic practice is in many ways a practice that nurtures the same kind of resilience.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

Time! I approach inspiration very pragmatically, when it comes to the greatest source of it, I think it’s the privilege of having the time to make art. That includes being able to afford unproductivity, boredom and not necessarily knowing where a project takes you as much as having the resources to research, experiment and finish a project when it’s right for it to end in its final form.

What do you need in order to create your work?

Again, time! When it comes to needs for creating work or to feel inspired, it comes to the question of how much time you can carve out for creating. It’s a question of navigating an economy that rarely works in favour of artists (well, with some exceptions of course).

Also, I have often been thinking about the experience of receiving a kind of permission. There are of course many ways of asking for permission, among them some destructive tendencies are guaranteed, that’s for sure, but I’m thinking more about the kind of permission that acts as a form of care. It comes to you through works that made it possible for you to be here, as much as the relationships that art forms between people that build a foundation of encouragement and support. Artistic practice has somehow given me a chosen family of people who I love and perpetually gives me a form of permission to compose stories and make stuff that I consider significant.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

Recently, I have been returning to the “Abakans” of Magdalena Abakanowicz.

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