Anne Hardy was meant to be a scientist, but instead became an artist. Life is the inspiration behind her ‘sentient’ installations, which are parallel realities she creates both for herself and for us to enjoy. To make them, she collects sounds and materials that she finds on the street, and transforms them so that the end result becomes a unique new atmosphere. Now, take your shoes off and let’s go inside her work.
Hello Anne! Could you tell us a bit about yourself? Where do you come from?
I was meant to be a scientist, but instead became an artist.
What inspires your work the most?
How’s your work process? How much time more or less does it take you to develop one entire installation? Do they usually turn out similar to how you imagined them at first?
It is an involved process, and can take up to nine months to realise a single work. When I begin, I don’t know how the end result will be, as it’s the result of a process of working with materials, sounds, as well as the particular characteristics of the space the piece will exist in. I work on many elements throughout the development of the installation, but the work only gets finalised the moment I work directly in the space, as this is when I can determine the relationships between all the parts and how I want them to operate in relation to mine and other people’s bodies.
Before, you used to create imaginary places, photograph them, and later exhibit those photographs. Though now you’re exhibiting the places themselves. How did the necessity of letting people enter into your work come up?
It became necessary for people to be inside my work, to live it as an experience that involves their body and senses directly, so that this can become something embedded into you directly through your physical and sensory experience.
Tell us about what the places you create mean to you. Do you dream of them, do you wish they were real?
These places are real. I think of them as a parallel reality – another version, or potential other version of the world we are part of everyday. They are composed of elements I find in pockets of wild space that sit next to our everyday spaces: sounds, materials, atmospheres. I see them as a kind of mapping process of these areas: ones that I think of as the soul of the city or place they are part of, where all the loose ends, feelings and thoughts collect. In a sense, these kind of spaces are ‘free’ or ‘wild’ and this is the atmosphere that I want to explore in my work, a place out of time that gives our imagination – and therefore, perhaps our souls – a different kind of agency to consider other possibilities for themselves.
Usually, are there metaphors behind your work?
It is an open and subjective space, since you bring your whole self with you when you enter. There is a feeling or atmosphere I hope you will feel though.
You were invited to participate in the Sensory Spaces series presented at Boijmans Museum in Rotterdam. You refer to your work as “sentient places”. In which way does this exhibition interact with each of the viewer’s five senses?
I think of the environments I create as sentient; I want them to have the sense that they are in some way alive – altering and changing – that they continue with their own rhythm and process separately from their relationship with you. The work uses physical elements that make you aware of how you move within them and which are meant to be gently destabilising. For example, the floor in the Boijmans Museum has been built with a subtle slope under the carpet that is hard to notice visually but that you can feel when you move around. I have also worked with a strong colour field to create a distinctive atmosphere. The audio – a quadraphonic score that I composed – surrounds you and is at times gentle and at others overwhelming. The lights also change throughout the score, creating an altering sense of space and atmosphere.
People have to take their shoes off when entering your spaces. Is it to preserve the installation in better conditions, or does it have a more ritualistic intention?
Removing your shoes creates a more intimate connection with the work. It makes you vulnerable and more sensitive; you become more part of the installation.
You use very peculiar objects in your art, where do you get them? Do you look for them with something in mind or just find them randomly and create something from them?
I find things in the places where I walk to research for my work. I see what comes and take it back to the studio. Often, I translate the things I work with by casting them in another material to make them both themselves but also absolutely not themselves at the same time.
You say you “collect sounds from the city” to use in your work. I guess that, since you live in London, it gives a particular frenetic sense to your pieces. Where else would you like to live and work in for a while?
I’d like to make a work in the desert.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m currently finishing my first short film, which will be shown at Maureen Paley in London, in a solo show opening on the 10th of April, and at a group show in La Loge, Brussels.
Anne Hardy: Sensory Spaces 13 will be on view until May 27 at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Museumpark 18, Rotterdam.