Tique asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Ana Zibelnik.
Lives in The Hague, Netherlands
How do you describe your own art practice?
I’m interested in scientific and philosophical accounts of time. My photographic practice is research based, but only in the beginning of a project. After having spent some time with theories, I take complete liberty in appropriating them visually, and simply follow the autonomous atmosphere that forms when the subject of interest is taken out of its original context. I need facts to start, and fiction to create images.
Which question or theme is central in your work?
The themes I’m working with always have to do with the extremes of mortality and immortality. If in the last work, We Are The Ones Turning, the approach was very broad and loose — it was all about capturing the emotions surrounding death, my most recent work Immortality is Commonplace departs from a very particular subject which is a biologically immortal organism. It’s not a very surprising mission for a photographer, but I guess I’m just interested in how photography as a recording medium frames time, especially in comparison to the Earth’s own ways of storing information. I’m curious to see how this mission to preserve life in the form of images is going to evolve in light of the fast changing environmental conditions.
What was your first experience with art?
My parents used to have a band and I grew up with that, but we never visited museums or galleries. I played piano and guitar myself and was quite creative as a child, however, I believe it was my high school art history teacher who had really shown me the way. She didn’t talk about concepts much, but she would take us to Vienna and Munich regularly and just marvel at how beautiful the paintings were. It was very contagious.
What is your greatest source of inspiration?
It’s always been literature. I rarely experience moments of inspiration in daily life — I guess there’s often just too much going on to feel inspired. In this regard, books are perfect because they are just text. It’s the minimal and plain form of information that normally makes me see images I want to take. Currently I’m reading George Saunders’ 2017 novel Lincoln in the Bardo, which was inspired by Abraham Lincoln’s mourning of his son Willie. The story is set in a cemetery where spirits of the deceased from various eras stick around their physical remains, unwilling to fully transition to the afterlife. What’s fascinating is that the narrative is divided between all those different voices, without necessarily being a dialogue.
What do you need in order to create your work?
I need a lot of silence and peace. I’m not a very collaborative person and usually feel most productive at hours when there’s not much happening outside. I need confidence and knowledge of the subject, and I need to have a good vision of where the work is going.
What work or artist has most recently surprised you?
I’ve recently seen a video work by Eli Cortiñas at KINDL Art Centre in Berlin. I never felt very close to video but her 12’ piece Walls Have Feelings made an impression.