Tique asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Anu Vahtra .
Lives in Brussels
How do you describe your own art practice?
I’m combining photography – lately also moving image – with installation, which in one way or another is always closely tied to the space it is exhibited in. A friend once said that in my case the focus of attention is not so much on what my work depicts but rather on how it relates to and is displayed in a specific space – a sentence I have since stolen to describe my practice.
Which question or theme is central in your work?
I’m interested in working with what’s already there, be it a certain spatial situation or a phenomenon in urban space. My work is connected to architecture, form, and to our perception of the everyday environment it influences.
What was your first experience with art?
Perhaps not my first ever experience with art, but I have to think back to the time I went to children’s art school during secondary school. There, at one point, I made a work that probably was my first ever site specific work. Although I definitely did not know what site specific is. In an alcove in the basement I painted a life-size door that looked like other doors in the school. I attached an actual door handle and a sign, and remember being thrilled when people tried to enter. Later on, mold started growing on it, making it look even more three dimensional. I don’t remember during which course I made the work, but as it was next to the sculpture class of Anu Põder, a great artist and teacher, I think she might have had something to do with it.
What is your greatest source of inspiration?
Recently I’ve been fortunate to have had some really great conversations, with friends and colleagues, and with my partner. About my own practice or theirs, or about something else. Which reminds me that it’s very important to try to make time for a good chat on a regular basis.
What do you need in order to create your work?
Context and deadline. I work best towards an output, in most cases it’s an exhibition which by default comes with a context and a deadline. I have a love-hate relationship with Last Minute, a moment in time that creates a lot of pressure but also generates the best decisions. Right now I’m working on an exhibition in P/////AKT, Amsterdam, and due to the constantly extending lockdown my last minute has been postponed for several times – a new and interesting experience which I’m trying to embrace by approaching the installing period as an unexpected residency and the exhibition space as a studio.
What work or artist has most recently surprised you?
I recently saw an installation by Suchan Kinoshita at WIELS. A catwalk-like structure built out of salvaged gym floor, accompanied by a collection of curious tools or objects. A series of close-up videos shows the tools being used in order to engage with the structure, during the build-up perhaps. A very exciting work I felt I could relate to in so many ways. I was also fortunate to meet her in person during a studio visit which added an inspiring and generous personality to an already exciting practice – which surprisingly enough I had not come across before.