Six questions for
Jessica Backhaus

Tique | art paper asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Jessica Backhaus.

Artist Jessica Backhaus
Lives in Berlin, Germany

How do you describe your own art practice?

Choosing the path of an artistic career is a long journey. It is not only a profession but a certain life you choose to live. For many years photography is at the base of my artistic work. In more recent years I am also experimenting with new ways of expression. I am trying to see how far you can go within the medium of photography. In my most recent project A TRILOGY I have also realized mixed media collages. And I find this new art form very intriguing. As an artist I find it necessary to challenge yourself and to explore unknown fields. In terms of practice I enjoy the different stages of a project. For my photographs I still go out into the world and discover places where I can create my work. Then there is the time that I spend in the darkroom and nowadays I also have a studio where I can continue the next steps and experiment with various materials in order to find new forms of expression. This immersion into other worlds, to loose and find oneself, to follow uncertain paths, to dare, to try new attempts are some elements that are at the base of my art practice.

What was your first experience with art?

In some ways I have always been surrounded by art. During my childhood years I grew up in an artistic househould, basically in the theater. My mother is an actress and my father is a theater director. I loved watching the rehearsals. And I believe that was my first experience with art. Later on while I was a teenager, before I moved with 16 years to Paris, France, I spent many years in the movie and film archive that belonged to the partner of my mother. These years of my upbringing did influence me in my desire to become a photographer and visual artist.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

Life inspires me. Traveling. People. Our emotions, our feelings, our intuitions as well as various art forms like painting, film and music. Color in itself is another big inspiration to me. Artists like Helen Frankenthaler, Raoul de Keyser and James Turrell are also inspirational sources.

What do you need in order to create your work?

The starting point can be an idea, a certain feeling or experience and an intuition. Here I would like to quote a text from the Intuition show, curated by Axel Vervoordt:

“What is intuition and how does it work? What role does intuition play in an artist’s creative process? Described in various circumstances as a subconscious activity, a gut feeling, a sixth sense, or a hunch – intuition is a mysterious process that gives us the ability to know something without proof or evidence. It guides us to act in a certain way without knowing exactly why or how. It’s a bridge between the conscious and the unconscious mind, between instinct and reason, between perception, logic, and the leap from a question to its answer.”

Apart from that I also need some quiet time and an open mind.

What are you working on at the moment?

I have started work on various new series but at this moment I am not sure what journey the whole process will take. Elaborating new works always takes time… and only with time we can see in which direction the wind blows.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

One work by an Italian artist Ilaria Turba. Ilaria Turba created a complexe project called JEST. JEST originates from her exploration of her own family photo archive: five generations of images dating from 1870 to today. These are the starting point for a visual search that evolves like a playful act, like a game full of cross references, repetitions, pitfalls and transformations. In January I had the chance to see the whole project in an exhibition in Nantes, France. Her images were exhibited with a series of acts of performance and installations. JEST is a powerful experience and challenges our visual perception in many surprising ways.

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