strangefruits art & design portal
Anne Michaux
age: 35
country: Germany
exposed: January 2007
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Please introduce yourself and tell us something about yourself and your background.
I grew up in Luxembourg, studied several subjects without ever finishing any study, lived in Brussels, Amsterdam an moved to Berlin in 2000.
I have worked as an assistant to many artists until my own urge to make things became strong enough for me to not be able anymore to work for someone else. I had always had a keen interest in photography on one hand an urge to build little things on the other. The work I am doing now, building small scale models of “worlds” and scenes I imagine and then photographing them, is something that has crystallized after years of trying out different media.

What’s the central theme of your work?
What drives my work is a fascination with the rapid changes of the world we are living in. at the moment my series are influenced by an idea of a nostalgic view on the end of a western world. In general, my work combines nostalgia with longing, dreams with nightmares. I am fascinated by the “darker” side of our society, by things that are not apparent, but are lurking beneath the surface of the obvious. I try to show in my pictures the things that I feel are there but not readily visible to the casual observer. The “weirdness” of things fascinates me, those parts of society that are usually glossed over, and those that are not accessible to me.

It's sometimes hard to balance on the thin line between art and illustration. You describe your work as photographic illustrations. Why?
I call it illustration for the simple reason that with my photography I try to “illustrate” an idea I have. I illustrate an idea by building a setting that corresponds in one way or another with the initial idea, what happens after I put the initial setting in place hopefully goes further the a “simple” illustration of an idea.
And I like the idea of sometimes having an idea imposed on me and then trying to re-appropriate it and illustrate in my own way. In those cases it is a challenge to go beyond the juxtaposing of elements in a setting. I might have a certain idea which elements put together rationally express a certain idea, but simply building by putting those elements together hardly ever gives a good result. I need to get into that state where one small irrational decision makes the boring setting that does not work into a “world” that does work.
But I do think that in general the boundaries between illustration and art are often blurred.

What makes something to a good piece of art in your eyes?
A piece of art that moves something in my head, that goes beyond the “I like it” feeling, that touches me on a personal level that cannot be explained rationally. An art work that gives me the feeling, if only for a fleeting moment, that my world view has shifted. A click in my head. An which gives me energy, which makes me wish to look at it over and over again and which keeps it´s power even if I look at it for the tenth time.

Could you tell us something about your work process? How do you start?
How long do you work on it? What mediums do you work in and which one do you enjoy the most?

Usually I go to my studio at the end of the day, I am spending hours looking forward to it, while doing other tedious work , and then when I get to my studio I usually first feel a bit panicked, wondering what on earth I am going to do. I usually start with cleaning up the things lying around from a setting that I have already taken pictures of. While doing that I often get an idea what my next picture will be and I go from there. Or I have an idea of what I want to build / photograph, I start building it up, then reject it again until it gets to a point where the setting gets a life on ´it`s own, from that moment onwards, I cannot rationally explain why I use a certain light, why I put a certain element into the picture, why I reject something else.

I always try to finish one entire setting and the picture of it in one day / night. My attention span doesn´t last any longer then that.
The moments I enjoy most are the moments just before I start building my setting, and the moment where I know that I have taken the right picture. The moments in-between are often filled with real agony, self-doubt, anger, depression, even disgust in what I do … but once I feel that I have the right settings, the right light, the right angle, I feel a real buzz, real excitement.

I have used digital photography until now, I am beginning to experiment with analogue photography and that gives me great pleasure. I still make digital pictures of all my settings, but now also take slides, I like the fact that a slide is physically present and I am amazed the wide colour range and depth I get …

I do make collages as well, something I always call my unofficial art because I don´t feel like I have found my real language in that medium yet and I use It more in order to experiment with colors, textures and composition, something that I need to do in order to get new ideas or new ways at looking at my other, my photography work. And I like the physically of it.

But nothing satisfies me more then having taken a picture that I really like, that even surprises me, that makes the setting I built come alive.

In what way do you use the Internet? What role does the computer play in your work?
The Internet is my biggest window on the world, a dream come true, something I always wished was there without knowing that I wished for it. I like the weirdness of it, I like to get a glimpse of the life of all kinds of people, I like the readiness of information, the possibility to see beautiful art or design on my laptop, the possibility of showing my own work to people I have never met and probably never will.
And my website is important to me, to have the ability to put my work online minutes after I made it. As I still mainly use digital photography, I download my pictures immediately on my laptop after a studio session, I am still amazed at the possibility to see my work so fast. I love it.
But I do not digitally manipulate my pictures on the computer.

Computer or Ink?
Computer. I realize that whenever I have to hand-write something I actually get a cramp in my hand …

Concept or Intuition?
Both. What comes first I don`t know.

If you had an unlimited budget and all the time you needed. What would you do?
Make even more art, experiment more, organize my own exhibitions and travel a lot. And worry less.

What inspires you?
Life, history, science fiction, future visions of any kind, my own past, cities, light, longing, long runs through the suburbs of Berlin, transient spaces, highways, the night, music …

What means or ways do you use to show your work to the world?
The Internet (via my own website and via webmags), the gallery that represents my work.

How do to you keep your knowledge up to date? Do you spread your knowledge at universities, conferences or workshops and so on?
I read a lot, listen to a lot of radio, try to keep in contact and interact with a lot of people who do very different things.
But I still feel isolated a lot of the time, being an artist is a very lonely job and communicating and exchanging ideas with others only works up to a certain point, from that point onwards you are on your own if you want to make something that has not been done in exactly the same way by many others.

Who is your favorite artist/designer? Why?
I don´t really have a favorite artist or designer. There are loads of artists that I admire and there is a lot of design that I find absolutely fabulous. I sometimes see photographs that totally blow me away, made by artists I have never heard about. Strangely enough I look at a lot of painting right now, because the texture of it fascinates me, and I would like to get some kind of texture into my photographs, even if this seems physically impossible.

Which project or website would you like to have made, or make?
I´d like to have a website that somehow always reflects my current interests, my current fascination and that manages to draw the visitor into my world instead of simply statically shoving the pictures I make. A website that is closer to me and closer to the visitor.

A project I would like to make … well the first thing I can think of is that I would like to have huge prints made of some of my work and I would like to see it plastered on walls on relevant places on buildings all around the world.

Final words?
There never seems to be enough time to make all I want to make. ?>