Very few – if any – of us can say that we have never before felt alone, isolated from the world around us. It’s easy to fall into despair but artist Alice Anderson has found a way out. Instead of turning to people, she turned to the objects around her, finding beauty in the everyday and the mundane. Wanting to breathe life into these objects, she ‘memorized’ them, ultimately turning them into a completely different form.
Her artistic ability spans many forms: from still life, wire-encrusted objects to fluid interpretive dance, she succeeds in drawing our attention to our everyday surroundings. From August 31 to September 2, visit the Chart Art Fair in Copenhagen to discover Body Itineraries and Cables, two of her major ongoing artworks. The first one is composed of sculptures that have created an ‘alphabet of movement’, patterns made by the body itineraries – hence the name –, inspired by the Arhuaco tribe in Colombia. The second one is pretty much related to the hyper-connectivity of today’s world, enhancing the relationships we have with objects, items and gadgets.
Alice, you studied Fine Art at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and Goldsmiths College in London. Would you categorize your training as traditional? How did your education and upbringing help to inspire you?
I never fit anywhere. My language was the one of the body, I was ‘talking’ to objects through gestures as Pina Bausch incorporated objects into dance. I started to paint pretty early. I must say that art saved me at a very young age. My paintings opened a place for me at the BA and I first began to experiment with objects through filming in a non-traditional way.
You state that, even as a child, you had an extreme sensitivity to your environment and often had to relate to others via objects. Has this been a struggle in your life? How do you use objects to relate to others? How has artwork helped you form connections?
Objects can play as ‘extensions of the self:’ an emotional tag attached to them – according to who gave me the object or the moment associated with it, it’s movement or intuition. To explain this, Annabelle Gugnon made an interesting reference to John Cage talking to Oscar Fischinger (director of Merce Cunningham Dance Company) about the spirit to be found in every object in the world. “The object has to be touched in order to release its spirit and to liberate its sound. This is the idea, which led me to the percussion. I never ceased during all the years following this encounter to explore the palpation of objects, to bring them into resonance, to find out which sounds they contained”.
You assert that you weave memory circuits with copper-coloured wire around objects. What does it mean for objects to have a memory circuit? How does it give them power?
The memory circuits are those of the people recording/performing them. I’m always worried about forgetting an object, therefore, when one around me is likely to become obsolete or is lost in the stream of our lives, I memorise it with thread before it happens. I create new physical relationships to objects and spaces that allow me to ‘memorise’ objects and architectures. I speak of ‘memorisation’ because the process is a way of drawing memory circuits in a physical movement around objects. I believe that my practice is simply a physiological response to the digital world, saturated with information, in which physical and digital memories are merging.
Alice Anderson Chart Design 2018 Alice Anderson Cables Performance 2014.jpg
Your process is similar to the act of spiritual weaving in Colombia, where Arhuacos communities believe that to live is to ‘weave one’s life.’ How does this philosophy factor influence your work? How does your approach differ from theirs?
Indians from Sierra Nevada in Colombia are the guardians of nature. Their constructions, symbol of the cosmos and the body, reflect the social bond of the group that built it. From their philosophy up to their weavings, they generate an energy to ‘rethink the world’ and that’s what I am after.
Much of your work centres around the mundanity of objects. How does your process transform them into something meaningful for you and the audience?
To me, they become a reference point in time and space and transform themselves into sacred objects or surfaces as they have been charged with the rituals of the performances.
You also engage in performative work, particularly with dance. What does the performance usually involve? What does it symbolize for you?
My works are resulting from performances. I like to push repetitive movements as far as possible through specific gestures, rhythms, sounds, etc. My body is just a tool that art commands/calls/dictates.
Alice Anderson Columns.jpg
You’ll be presenting Body Itineraries and Cables at this year’s Chart Art Fair in Copenhagen. Could you tell us what’s the relationship between the two artworks/performances/series and how will they be presented in the context of an art fair (instead of in an art gallery or institution, for example)?
The two ensembles of sculptures are both ongoing series. Their connections result in the repetitive movements that trances have been generating in the making. For Body Itineraries, the abstract patterns have been made out of the body itineraries around each square. For Cables Data, the body ‘itineraries’ will be made in the void, directly in Den Frie’s central space calling different movements and body postures until the soft sculpture takes shape. They are both spreading the message of the importance of the physiological interaction with the world. According to Pascal Picq, human decline won’t be the cause of AI but of human muscular and neuronal passivity.
We currently live in the digital era. How has the presence of technology shaped your work? Do you think that living in an increasingly technological world benefits or harms us? How?
It’s a fact that humanity has shifted into a new era. We are only at the Stone Age of this technological evolution that is already changing all models – economic, societal, ideological and physical. The world becomes more and more immaterial and it is essential for me to keep track of a contemporary humanity that is at the edge of transhumanism. Without nostalgia, I question a time in which the very nature of what it is to be human is simultaneously enriched and challenged.
In addition to the art fair, what other projects are you currently working on’
I am currently preparing a very large sculpture for the Atelier Calder in France and several new series of performative drawings for a personal exhibition at Waddington Custot Gallery London.
“Alice Anderson’s works Body Itineraries and Cables will be on view from August 31 to September 2 at Chart Art Fair, held at the Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Kongens Nytorv 1, Copenhagen.”
Alice Anderson Chart Design 2018 Alice Anderson Cables 1.jpg
Alice Anderson Chart Design 2018 Alice Anderson Body Itineraries 2018 50x50cm Copper Wire Copia.jpg
Alice Anderson Chart Design 2018 Alice Anderson Body Itineraries 2018 175x175cm Copper Wire.jpg
Alice Anderson Chart Design 2018 Alice Anderson Body Itineraries2 2018 125x125cm Copper Wire.jpg
Alice Anderson Chart Design 2018 Alice Anderson Body Itineraries4 2018 150x150cm Copper Wire.jpg