In preparation for her upcoming debut exhibition at Nelly Duff ‘NSFW’ we pestered Anne Lacheiner-Kuhn to do the thing she hates most, talking about herself and her artwork. We can’t get enough of either, so we persisted and she kindly sat down with Nelly Duff to talk all things collage, print, and bondage magazines…
ND: You originally studied art in South Africa, how would you compare London and SA’s contemporary art scenes, or more specifically their reception of your artworks? Speaking on behalf of London, we love them!
ALK: The art scene in South Africa is far more compact I think. Although a hugely creative nation, very few people have the ability to study art there which results in those who do study being extremely dedicated. In the Universities themselves the standard feels higher and more challenging. It wasn’t uncommon to have studio visits from artist like Jo Ractliffe or discussions with Pieter Hugo & Nicholas Hlobo. In response, I feel like the work I made then was more ‘academic’. I was fairly successful in that my work was acquired by the Department of Science & Technology in Pretoria as well as being part of the Saso New Signature show.
My experience in London on the other hand has been very different. The city has a huge art scene and although there is more competition it also offers far more opportunities to artists. It’s also given me the freedom of moving away from the more ‘academic’ work and have fun and experiment shamelessly.
ND: The way you re-appropriate photographs and images from contemporary pop culture to create these kinds of dreamscapes is so unique, what is it about collage and combining found imagery that appeals to you?
ALK: I have always worked with appropriated footage even back in South Africa with my video works. As a kid I was obsessed in making VCR video mixes and I guess the process of copying and re-contextualising has always been fascinating to me.
I jokingly say I am a failed documentary photographer who has become a storyteller by using other people’s images but equally, it is the found images that often trigger memories or activate my imagination. It’s a celebration of other people’s work with my own commentary on how I see it in my world.
ND: Although your work as an artist is what we know you for at Nelly Duff, you have also had vast experience working in other creative and technical environments. Do you garner inspiration from other areas of your career that influence your artworks?
ALK: Ohh I am a Jackie of all trades, having worked in film & TV post-production, as a Digital Print Technician at Central Saint Martins and a metal work & 3D Technician at Wimbledon College of Art. I now split my time between making art, working in special effects snow for Film & TV and setting up temporary internet networks at music festivals.
I wouldn’t say a specific job has had a particular impact on my work, of course, they all have informed and shaped my process but as far as inspiration goes I’d like to say it derive from seeing other people’s shows but in reality I get influenced by whatever TV programme or documentaries I binge watch while I work.
ND: Your work often features erotic imagery and same-sex romantic scenes that are filled with humour and energy, what do you think it is about erotic/Queer/NSFW imagery that works so well in your collage format?
ALK: I think queer or homoerotic images have a rawness to them, especially gay male images as these are produced for a specific target audience and not the main stream. As such they fit into my other work of odd/unusual found images. When I use these in my work I often defuse the hardness in them by using humour and these collages are also an opportunity for my female drag alter ego, AnnApropriate, to play and perve over men. There is a freedom of these images that fascinates me.
Its only recently that I’ve started to incorporate more female homoerotic images. I find the use of these far more problematic as most of them are produced for the heterosexual male/the male gaze. There is a shift from subject to object which I’m still unsure about but equally the many of my gay female friends have welcomed these works as lesbian/queer/bi women are very under-represented in art.
ND: Where/what is your favourite place/publication to cut pieces and imagery from to make up your artworks?
ALK: Ohhh that’s like asking what’s my favourite guilty pleasure, haha! I’m a huge fan of The British Journal of Photography which has a great variety of works and showcases many young photographers. For unique and quirky images GUP (Guide to Unique Photography) is pretty unbeatable, but I also use free publications like QX magazine and Boyz Magazine that reflect London gay club culture. Ebay is another source for finding little gems and a few months ago I managed to buy someone’s entire vintage (70’-90’) collection of bondage magazines. I also inherited a box of 1950’s women’s magazines from my grandmother which are pretty cool. So all round I like to use whatever I can get my hands on.
ND: In terms of artworks/artists that you are inspired by – do you have a dream artwork/artist that you would love to own works of?
ALK: David Goldblatt, who recently passed away, has always been a hero of mine. His ability to document and comment on society in such a subtle yet strong way is aspirational, Something I think most artists aspire to. William Kentridge is another artist I hugely admire and who’s recent performance piece, ‘The Head & the Load’ really moved me, and has made me think a lot about pushing my practice. As for work which I’d love on my wall I wouldn’t say no to one of Helmut Newton’s Pool images, but I also find Andrew J Millar’s polaroid collages super seductive!
ND: Although a lot of your work could already be described as ‘NSFW’, should we expect anything out of the ordinary for this exhibition?
ALK: Oh yes its probably best to leave the kids at home for this show, but I think the one surprise I still have up my sleeve is in effect what I would call an ‘anti-collage’. It’s a work that is motorised and as a result, the images are in constant motion. Its fun, a little naughty and you never quite know what might pop up behind another image 😉
ND: Your original works are primarily collage, what is it about producing printed editions with Nelly Duff that you think will work well for your artworks?
ALK: I’ve played around with producing pints in the past but working with Nelly Duff on this together has been great. The team has so much experience in this field and great ideas. From simple things such as what scale to work into more experimental aspects such as special finishes to make the prints more unique. I’ve always worked on a small scale with my collages, so being able to scale up the works for prints also gives them a totally new presence and something that I probably would not have explored without the Nelly team.
ND: We heard on the grapevine that your drag altar-ego AnnAppropriate will be making an appearance at the ‘NSFW’ Private View, can we count on their presence?
ALK: Haha indeed! AnnAppropriate heard there was alcohol so there was no way I could keep her away! Also, she does love being the centre of attention so she will be happy as a pig in mud… She might even bring some of her colourful friends along!
ND: And finally – if there was one artwork from the show that you could keep for yourself which would it be?
ALK: Ohh that’s a tricky one. I guess ‘Playing Fetch’ is the one I’d like to keep. It reminds me of the dualities of my two homes… Namibia & London. Both wild and shocking in their own ways.
‘NSFW’ will be showing at Nelly Duff from 7th – 16th September with a Private View (all welcome) on Thursday, 6th September from 6pm-9.30pm. See you then!