Every day, at least 10 artists that I’ve never heard before start to follow me on Instagram. In almost all cases, their likes and comments under my photos are no more than bought automatic Instagram likes. With the German-Slovenian multi-media artist Annina Roescheisen, it was different right from the beginning on. The comments she wrote under my posts were very personal and she was one of the few artists who didn’t unfollow me again after a day or two.
We finally got into touch with each other when Annina heard a part of a song from my most favourite jazz band radio.string.quartet that I had posted into my Instagram story. Annina was born in 1982 in the Bavarian city of Rosenheim and left Germany 12 years ago to work between Geneva and New York. Having obtained a Masters diploma in Art History, Political Philosophy and Folklore at the University of Ludwig Maximilian in Munich in 2008, Roescheisen moved to France in 2009. It was not until 2012 that she finally started creating her own pieces of art with the suppoert of acte2galerie owner Renaud Bergonzo.Roescheisen’s work has been exhibited in galleries and art spaces all around the world since that time, including the 56th Venice Biennale, at the GAA Foundation in the context of the European Pavilion. From 2012 until 2016, she was on stage for the performance piece entitled “Systema Occam” by French contemporary artist Xavier Veilhan in collaboration with contemporary music composer Eliane Radigue. This performance was for example shown at the MAMO/ Le Corbusier in Marseille, the Delacroix Museum in Paris or the French Alliance Institute in New York.
Annina’s video art, photography, sculptures, drawings, installations and performances are tales of mystery and imagination, of dream and reality. But above all, her kind of art is so extremely powerful and strong, because of Annina’s deep, sincere love for human beings and her reflection on what humanity really means in this world. „Roescheisen approaches art as a tool to break down the barriers of elitist thinking and enhance connectivity. Art becomes a universal language, used by the artist in order to disrupt the silence and to bring our innermost feelings to the surface“: This is how Annina describes her way of approaching art on her website.
At the moment, Annina is in Paris where her work is shown as a part of the group exhibition Still Life, curated and organized by Vanessa Virag at Espace Galerie Catherine Houard (till October 26th). From November 23rd to 25th, Annina is going to return to Germany for a panel at the Annual Global Table Event of the BWM Foundation in Berlin where she is going to present her project #WhatBringsPeace. Since the end of last year, the artist has been working on this interactive and all-inclusive art project, addressing the panhuman quest of individual and global peace.
Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Elle, Wall Street Yournal: These are only a few magazines and newspapers that reported on Annina Roescheisen during the last few years. I’m really glad that this extraordinary artist found the time to answer some very special interview questions for my blog!
New York, October 20th, 2017
A letter to Lena:
The type of Art that I am creating is above all based on emotions.
I do believe that our modern society is often designed to tear us apart from our emotions. The „information bulimia“ of images, food, news, fashion, and even art are often designed to push us further and further away from ourselves. The time for rest, for self-reflection, for a critical way of thinking is not truly given in our highly developed world. We are constantly pressed for time and often try to find ways how to calm down, but I don’t think that it is enough. It’s as if we are taking pills in order to feel better, to feel at ease, but we flee our deepest selves and our emotions by doing it.
Art is a universal, mostly non-phonetical/ non-verbal language that “hits you from the backdoor“. I feel that the emotions you experience through the art lens are those which cannot be controlled. When you are confronted with a piece of art, emotions will arise uncontrollably.
Through my art, I try to create this one moment of emotional truth. A moment of uncontrolled emotions, a moment of freedom, a moment that goes beyond any social boundaries such as religion, gender, knowledge, politics, and so forth. I try to create a sort of emotional freedom through my kind of art and I try to bring people back to the essence of their humanity and true identity.
I started to love art at a very young age, most probably because my parents took me to many exhibitions and to numerous churches. I have to admit, the latter was not my cup of tea! 🙂 This is where my passion for ancient medieval Art comes from. Old manuscripts, bibles, iconography and the methods to decipher paintings feel like a treasure hunt.
Therefore, I like Jerome Bosch, Giotto or Rogier van der Weyden, old manuscripts like the Book of Hours or the Bible of Jeanne d’Evreux.
I am also in love with the period of the Pre-Raphaelites and more modern artists like Hilma af Klint. Concerning contemporary art, I like the work of Hans Op de Beeck, Kahlil Joseph, and Shirin Neshat. I admire Marina Abrahmovic, not specifically for her work, but rather for her achievements in pushing certain boundaries in art a way lot further – and I also admire her for her spirituality and generosity.
When it comes to galleries and museums in New York and Paris – I love the Natural History Museum in both cities. Nature is the greatest artist. In New York one of my favorite galleries is Gavin Brown. I love the Botanical Garden in Brooklyn and the MET. In Paris my favorite museums are the Musée Cluny and the Palais de Tokyo. I love the Musée de la vie Romantique, not so much for their exhibtions but for their beautiful little garden. Gallery-wise in Paris, I love to stroll through the 6th and 3rd arrondissement. And I like the Speerstra Gallery and the Gallery Imane Farès.
I developed this project in May 2016. My gallery Frank Pages (Geneva) asked me to think of a piece for their annual Vision Art Festival (VAF). It was right before the elections and I couldn’t help reflecting on the concept of peace in these times of turmoil, threats, attacks, and so forth.
I started by asking myself if I was at peace with myself – and I was far away from it at that time. I came up with a lot of other questions connected to identity, ethics, education, humanity and war. Although peace may appear like a simple idea at first glance, you start realizing how different the concepts of peace are if you start focusing on it.
I asked myself: How could art participate in raising awareness on this topic and how could I manage to reach as many people as possible?
#WhatBringsPeace came to life. Everything started with the creation of a sculpture and the hasthag “#WhatBringsPeace“. The sculpture is a large-scale street sign displaying an image of Planet Earth. At its center, there is a convex mirror, reflecting the person in front of it or the sculpture surroundings. The back side is covered with empty, used bullets, symbolizing any internal or external war. The rusty mirror shows here just a shadow of the person standing in front or a silhouette of the environment that the sculpture is exposed in.
The purpose of the mirror is to emphasize the necessity of questioning ourselves on what peace is all about, thinking in a global way, while taking into account our environment. The sculpture is meant to be easy to understand for a lot of people – like a street sign. #WhatBringsPeace is a purely humanistic project that aims to reflect, to unite, to go beyond religion, gender and politics. It is designed to make us understand that we’re all the same when it comes to showing and sharing our emotions.
"If you are trying to transform a brutalized society into one where people can live in dignity and hope, you begin with the empowering of the most powerless. You build from the ground up" #AdrienneRich – . . . #WhatBringsPeace ? In Tryon, North Carolina, meeting with wonderful Ellen Thomas, who sacrificed her whole life being a so called White House Vigil, protesting against nuclear power and weapons and as a peace activist in front of the White House for over 25years. She gave up living in a house and in any comfort and lived in a tent in front of the White House – summer and winter she stood there – #whatbringpeace #whatbringpeacevoices
I do have a certain vision where this project should lead to one day. #WhatBringsPeace is about demonstrating the complexity of peace and peace-building processes on an individual and on a global scale.
I’ve filmed interviews with 60 people so far (of famous and everyday people) and I’d like to continue my research on peace in the war zones of this world. I am currently working on getting access to these countries but I need fundings, to be able to move forward, to travel and to produce. My aim is to exhibit parts of the #WhatBringsPeace project in public spaces all over the world.
What brings probably the biggest joy into my life is becoming a kid again trough my art. A kid in a grown-up body – full of experience, but with the eyes of a child that will never forget how to be fascinated by this world.
I left Germany 12 years ago. I think I needed the distance; I had to cut off my roots in order to find my true identity: finding who I really was. Being cut off from any comfort, or any security, from friends and family, facing a new language and a new culture, made me find myself.
Nowadays, I love going back to Germany. Not just because I like meeting friends or family or traveling to my beloved Bavaria again, but I also like to work in Germany. I’ve done my Master studies in History of Art and political Philosophy in Munich, rather than attending an art school. As an autodidact, I felt Germany and myself needed time to accept that it doesn’t need an art school to be a true artist.
My definition of success lies in the emotions of the others. Yes, I am happy to be featured in a magazine and if somebody is interested in my art – and yes, I am happy if I sell my art and I can continue to produce new works of art because of that.
But I don’t define success in terms of appearing in a newspaper or so. Moving people emotionally means being successful forme, making them think and re-think, making them cry and laugh again, making them feel alive or simply feel anything.
If I have a 13-year-old boy walking up to me during an exhibition, starting to discuss with me about what he truly felt while watching a video of mine for example – this makes me very happy.
I had to scroll back to my first Instagram post: December 20th 2012! Wow, almost 5 years go! From what I remember, I was waiting at the doctor’s and was therefore simply bored; I was curious, as all my friends were slowly disappearing from Facebook and turing to Instagram. To be very honest, I am not sure if I find social media exciting. I like the sharing, and the possibility in staying connected, as well as the easy access of information related to art.
The use of social media is though often doubtable. We choose to be constantly spamed. Social media is one of many mirrors of our current society: a mirror that reflects for example the need of rapid consumerism, and the creation of fake identites. People transpose what they wish to be. Are these truly the voices and raw models that we want to follow? Do you really see any interest in the „#ootd“ (outfit of the day)?
I would love to entitle it “post truth (identity) Instagram“. Personally, I do put my phone aside consciously and disconnect from the world of Social Media in order to be able to be fully committed to my work. Art doesn’t really happen in social networks- true sharing doesn’t happen there, true life neither. It is the personal encounters and exchanges that count in life.
My hope or vision is that people will understand that we’re not too different from each other when it comes to expressing our emotions. I don’t think of the future through the lens of projections. Projecting is a waste of time, as our goals and wishes rarely manifest themselves in the way we envisioned them. I prefer to accept that my ego won’t really take me anywhere.
I would love to be cheesy and dream of world peace and of all people being nice to each other… of a world without manipulation, abuse, pain, human and environmental disasters, of a healthy and happy world. I know this might never happen and this is not reality!
Nevertheless, I think we all have a choice to make: everyone of us has to decide how they wish to move forward in life. Through war? Through peace? Through your own ego? Through manipulation? Or through love, compassion, forgiveness and peace? This is a day to day decision.
Da Vinci said „Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.“
So, I decided that I want to go through life by trying to help as much as I can. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail.
More infos about Annina Roescheisen: