Frame 61

Anna Fafaliou

Frame 61
 Anna Fafaliou

"My work explores the relationship between object, memory and identity."


Could you tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been a practicing artist and where did you study?

I’m a conceptual artist currently working between London and Los Angeles. In 2011 after having obtained an MA from the School of Fine Arts, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Greece, I underwent an MA in Film and Visual Arts, Birkbeck College, University of London. I started working at artists’ studios both as an assistant and technician, and in late 2014 I decide I wanted to find my own voice in this field. So I started taking some baby steps, in parallel with work and at the same time I went back to school, this time at Laban College to study Performance Art.

My work is my everything, so I dedicated myself to it and soon I managed to start working for myself.

Since then my work has been shown around the world in various institutions, festivals, galleries. I’ve also given some lectures as a visiting artist or have taken part in discussion panels at Bangkok University, King’s College, Otis College LA to name few.

Due to my interest in the notion of cultural memory I’ve attended various artist’s residencies across the USA, Asia and Europe.

All I Can Remember, installation, 2015

You create white/monotone works and performances, could you tell us about the choice of white in your works?

My work explores the relationship between object, memory and identity.

My practice relates to the sense of attachment that people have with the objects from their past; from old houses, family heirlooms, presents from lovers etc. Somehow these trace the story of our lives and where we come from, therefore capturing who we are. Keeping them is like keeping the memories alive, it’s almost as if we don’t have the objectified proof the memory would fade away. And we are our memories. We are a collection or better said a selection of our memories and these objects we own / we inherited reflect who we are. There is a huge research in social psychology, neuroscience etc. around our relationship with colour. Different colours can have different impact in our behaviour, psychological state and memory. As colours stimulate our emotions they add intensity to our memories associated with them. We remember in colour. Colours trigger our emotions and our feeling of attachment. The white stands at the center of all my projects. Inspired by Kandinsky’s colour theory and writings on white “White resonates, like a silence that can suddenly be understood”. The use of whiteness further refers to the neutrality and mutability beyond the materiality and individuality of the object. While white isn't stimulating to the senses, it opens the way for the creation of anything the mind can conceive. Too much white can cause feelings of isolation and emptiness. By painting canvases, various materials and commonplace objects, I’m giving them not a new identity, but the space and time of re-writing on them.  I’m not trying to make them something different –I’m just trying to see them, as they would look from a time distance. How they can seem better or more pleasant from a nostalgic point of view.

Your major performance piece "Sleep" consisted of many performers simply sleeping in a space, could you tell us about this project and what inspired you to create it?

This performance piece was first shown at Nahmad Projects in Mayfair London. The idea of Sleep Project initially started after I read an article of sleeplessness in Japan, where people use their ability to stay awake as an asset in their CV’s. Starting from there I decided that I wanted to create a project of something that’s so basic & simple as sleep, and place it in different countries, cities, and spaces. The response of the audience was so interesting that I decided I wanted to observe everything such as the changes of socio-political issues that might arise.

For example, when I performed at the Bangkok Art & Culture Center, we had to stop the performance few minutes before 18.00, because all people must stand still for their national anthem everyday at that time –when inpublic spaces, as laying down in a public space at 18.00 can be a disrespectful action against their King, which can cause political issues. Furthermore I’m interested in the socio-psychology of the participants and how they place them selves within the space.

The audiences in all art venues are usually willing to participate, and they find it quite easy to take a pillow and lay down for a short or long time. What varies and changes drastically depending on the venue and cultural background is the way people place themselves in the space. This is something that fascinates me to observe, and has made me want to study more on socio-geography and start a research based on this project.

Sleep, performance, Nahmad Projects, 2016

What do you hope the viewer gains/reacts from looking at your work?

All I’m sharing through every work is a story. For me there is nothing more attractive, fascinating and inspiring than people’s stories. In my work I narrate these stories by using different mediums. I’m not hopeing for the viewer to see this specific story, I just wish for them to see a story. Everyone sees and understands everything differently, based on their experience, logic, emotions. I want the viewer to gain whatever they want to gain. In my work  I try not to explain too much.. it is what it is.. it either makes you feel or think of something or it doesn’t.

What artwork have you seen recently that has resonated with you?

Plegaria Muda by Doris Salcedo at San Francisco Moma. Everytime I get the opportunity to see the work of this brilliant artist I feel like I get hit by a thunder. It instantly hits me and shakes me to my very core. She uses domestic objects in such ways that allude to loss and absence.

Bound #2, 2016

Bound, 2016

Tell us a bit about how you spend your day/studio routine, what is your studio like?

I’ve spent last year travelling around either through artists’ residency or for exhibitions, so fortunately or unfortunately “routine” is an unknown word to me. Everywhere I travel though I always try to find my spot and create a little corner where I can work, this can be exhausting from time to time, as by the time you start getting used to something, you have to leave and start over. At the same time I feel like this is what has set me free as an artist, I always feel new at something, by not letting myself settle I feel like I’m in a constant move that I’m always learning.

I do have though a studio in Dalston with a beautiful view and daylight, which I’m in love with and I miss very much when I’m away.

What does the future hold for you as an artist? Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?

At the moment I’m in my studio in London preparing my solo show in Los Angeles this coming May at De Re Gallery, which is something I’m really looking forward to, as I’ll be showing some new 2D work, a new series of neon light works and a performance piece. But before going back to LA, I’m creating an installation for a new hotel in Central London, which I hope it will be ready by the end of March. Later on this year I’m going to Greece and Japan for two projects.

Images courtesy of the artist
Interview publishing date: 09/02/17