Menno Aden

In order of appearance

  1. Menno Aden, Untitled (Classroom), 2010
  2. Menno Aden, Untitled (Car), 2008
  3. Menno Aden, Untitled (Car III), 2018
  4. Menno Aden, Untitled, 2008
  5. Menno Aden, Untitled, 2010
  6. Menno Aden, Untitled (Box I), 2011
  7. Menno Aden, Untitled (Box VI), 2011
  8. Menno Aden, Untitled (Basement III), 2011
  9. Menno Aden, Untitled (Basement V), 2011
  10. Menno Aden, Untitled (Lift-III), 2011
  11. Menno Aden, Untitled (Lift V), 2017


All artworks courtesy of Menno Aden

Menno Aden (b. 1972) studied Art and Composition at Bremen University and University of the Arts Bremen in 2000. Aden lives and works in Berlin. 

Exhibitions include Museu Serralves, Deutsches Architektur Museum, Landesmuseum Emden, Kunsthaus Potsdam, The Wandsworth Museum, London, CMU Museum, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Dezer Schauhalle, Miami, Ratchadamnoen Contemporary Art Center, Bangkok, Institut Francais, Yangon, Myanmar, among others. 

Aden was awarded the German Prize for Science Photography, The International Photography Awards, The Accademia Apulia UK Photography Award, The European Award of Architectural Photography, among others. 

His work has been featured in The Guardian, Le Monde Diplomatique, Philosophie Magazine France, Der Tagesspiegel, Washington Post, Financial Times Internazionale, Dezeen, Nowness, Ignant, Deutsche Welle TV, among others. 

His work has been published in several books e.g. Berlin Raum Radar – New Architekture Photography (Hatje Cantz, 2016), European Month of Photography (Catalogue, 2016), Khao Ta Looh (KMITL Fine Art, Bangkok 2018), among others. 

Aden is represented in private collections in USA, Europe, and Asia, including Novartis Collection Basel, KPMG Collection London, Sanovis Collection Munich, Lisser Art Museum, among other national and international private collections. 

Angel D’lite

Cloud 69

NR presents Track Etymology, the textual corollary to’s exploration of contemporary soundscapes: A series of short interviews delving in the processes and backstories behind the releases premiered on’s dedicated platform.

Hello to both! Hope you had a great start of the week and thank you for doing this! The EP is sick! My first question is a pretty straightforward one, the textual equivalent of a warm-up: What brought you together on this collaborative journey?

Angel: My memory is actually a little hazy, as we started this project over a year ago, but Oli [Goddezz] had asked me if I wanted to work on something for Goddezz, and I had this idea to do a split EP with Lucy, a really good friend and an incredible producer. When our friendship was blossoming we were both in the early stages of production, always sending each other WIPS, encouraging and inspiring each other, so it’s super cute to have worked on this project together.. a full 360 moment. It’s been amazing to see and hear Lucy’s musical journey and how she’s grown as an artist and a composer, watch this space! 

LUXE: I feel as though Sadie and I have been talking about writing / working on some music together for a long while… We’ve always been close on eachothers production journeys – it feels really nostalgic and emotional to think back to our flurries of texts hyping eachother in our early days of production. Sadie was the first person to hear some of the first tracks I ever made and her infectious energy and encouragement helped me find confidence in what I was doing – I feel so grateful. Seeing her trajectory makes me so unbelievably proud and i’m so excited to see how life continues to unfold.

What were the elements of your respective sounds that you felt clicked together best and complemented each other? Additionally, what differences in your approaches did you feel add interesting twists to the tracks’ layout?

A: I LOVED working on the remix for Lucy, I loved hearing the wubby, textural sounds she used to make ‘Dance Enchantress’ . It’s really both of our worlds merging, with both the remixes and I think you can hear both of us in both remixes too! We are very different as producers and DJs, but I’d say we have a crossover of very UK bass kinda sounds within our productions and I think you can hear that in both the tracks and our remixes. 

L: I had so much fun working with Sadie’s stems, her gorgeous take on old skool nostalgia / euphoria was so refreshing to work with. I adore how both remixes turned out, I’m literally obsessed with sadie’s remix of my track!!! I love how we’ve created this common ground in our sound and production styles. 

If I were to put a label on the EP, I’d say it’s a UKG record, at least in its sonic backbone. UKG is a genre which elements are filtered into much of Y2K pop music, a current, if we can call it that, which has seen a big resurgence recently, almost to the point of saturation, as every trend deserving of that title should. Your EP strips the UKG resurgence back to the nostalgia and the pop-adjacency and brings it back to its roots: the club, dubstep influences, grimey sounds, a ravey funk. What were some of the influences behind this record?

L: Enchanted captures a really wide range of influences across the tracks, which are reflective of the ways in which mine and Sadie’s sounds crossover in our productions and sets. I honestly wanted to indulge in making something that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is a nice melding of some of my main influences, trancey and bassy with a hint of garage swing. Dance Enchantress felt like a fitting name with the alluring little vocal chop.

A: I was actually really inspired by a tune from Lobec – 5am Nostalgia, a beautiful, euphoric end of the night dancefloor tear jerker. Cloud 69 is a Poundland knock off, but it does the job I suppose! 

The remixes move the record away from familiar territory, slightly more at a distance from UK sounds, while remaining coherent with the vibe of the EP. How did you select them?

A: It was actually Oli’s [Goddezz] idea to get some remixes (I think, as I say it has been a long time in the works!) Each remix is very special in their own ways. I admire all the artists so much and I’m so grateful to have them all together on this.

I’ve been a big fan of Baraka (as people and artists) for a while now and that was really exciting for me to get them on this project, as it’s also their 1st remix! They have such a unique sound that spans sexy naughties-esque downtempo, 90s gabber, modern trance and techno, but always ravey and sexy, there’s a mindblowing Baraka track for every time of the day or night. I had no idea what they would make for us, but I really couldn’t be happier with what they’ve done! 

Both FAFF and Local group are good friends of mine, I knew FAFF would bring their silly, camp, sexy energy to this release, and it’s totally exceeded any expectations, actually becoming my favourite FAFF production, it’s all of the above, fun and funky fresh. I knew whatever Local Group would make would be a dancefloor destroyer, everything they put out is an instant bassbin hit. It means a lot to me to have them on this, we have remixed each other before, but this track is really next level. 

L: I think once we’d got the 4 tracks done of 2 originals and 2 remixes between Sadie and I we were speaking with Oli (Goddezz Daddy) and thought we may as well develop things further by curating a selection of remixes. The selection of artists was important – we thought it would be fun to cover all the sounds we love and the genres and spaces that influence us. Local group, and FAFF are close London contemporaries, incredible DJs and Producers,  who Sadie especially has known for years. Baraka we thought would be an amazing addition to the remixes, we didn’t really know what direction it would go in and it turned out to be this incredible trip-hop ethereal 90s concoction!! Mabel I was really keen to get on as I’ve been obsessed with her deep bassy psychedelic trance fueled productions and have loved seeing her trajectory. I love her flip of my original. What’s key here is that the remixes have created a perfect storm of genre mashup influences which feels very central to the whole project – the remixes made the sound world feel complete.

Last question: Are you planning some special B2B dates following the EP

Keep your eyes peeled

Interview · Andrea Bratta
Pre-order the digital album here
Follow LUXE on Instagram and Soundcloud
Follow Angel D’lite on Instagram and Soundcloud
Follow GODDEZZ on Instagram and Soundcloud
Follow NR on Instagram and Soundcloud

Lauren Auder

One Vertebrae At A Time

July is usually a transitional month when one handles the last matters at hand headed for the summer break. For British-French songwriter Lauren Auder, July was a month particularly charged with meaning, as she was about to release her first LP, The Infinite Spine, crowning a 5 years process of exploration and experimentation whereby the London-based songwriter broods her distinctive sound. NR spoke with her during the last days leading to the album’s release for its Personal Investigation Issueto retrace the influences and processes behind the record and her approach to music, art, and creativity. A conversation that, much like her music, uses a given particularity to paint a not necessarily bigger, but surely broader, picture.

Andrea Bratta: First things first, congratulations are in order! Your first LP is on the way! How do you feel? how are you living these last weeks leading up to it?

Lauren Auder: It’s taken such a while. And I still feel really proud of this journey, which is telling, and I’m really happy about that. It’s my first time living with something for so long, and I still feel like I can stand behind it. It’s a great feeling.

Andrea Bratta: With 3 Eps under your belt in a 5 years span and an already very distinctive sound, how did you approach this first LP? Is it a milestone for you, the completion of a process? Is this new record a crystallization of what you’ve been, so far, as a musician?

Lauren Auder: Until recently, I wasn’t ready to commit to a full-length album. And the album format is something I’m really a fan of; that’s how I’ve always listened to music and have always kind of come to comment on music, so it is a big moment for me. And I think I spent the past few years making these EPs and kind of testing things out. When I made the first EP, I never even considered who I wanted to be as a musician. I was kind of figuring it out as I was going along. And progressively, there was experimentation and new directions over these few pieces. And specifically, with the last EP, which was one that was maybe a bit less conceptual, the focus was much more on trying out different palettes. And coming to LA really helped me to decide where exactly I wanted to sit on this record and what I wanted to bring forth from these past records, what really worked for me, and the aspects that I wanted to push further. So it feels like those three records were the building blocks to make the sound of this first LP what it is.

Andrea Bratta: You said the last record was less conceptual and mentioned you’ve been focusing on sound palettes with it. What’s your process? Does it start with images or a certain sound you have in mind? Or an experience? 

Lauren Auder: Well, for the upcoming record, I had the name of it before anything else. It appeared to me as a very striking and evocative image [The Infinite Spine.] Everything in the record revolves around it. It feels ironic to say, but I’m not necessarily a primarily musical person. I’m obsessed with music, and I listen to it all the time. But it’s not necessarily a chord, a sound, or a song that will be the inciting factor in my creative process. It’s always more of a 360 degrees multimedia thing, and it’s mostly down to words; that’s really where I get to define my path forward —as I said, I just had this image in my mind that felt so evocative, sort of ancient, some kind of Ouroboros. But it also felt very current, something out of a body horror movie, frightening and confusing. The spine is, no pun intended, the backbone of our existence. This image felt like an opening to such a fruitful path to follow down and unfold—a lot of the lyrics on the album are also quite intense and visceral, and I think the process behind them, even if you put it purely visually, is the idea of unfolding this circular, infinite spine and creating some road forward from there.

Andrea Bratta: You just referenced body horror and have a song called “Hauntology,” a term referring to Jacques Derrida, Simon Reynolds, and a specific cultural lineage in music and literature. Your music is clearly informed by literature, cinema, and all manners of influences. So now I am thinking, why music? Is there something that drew you to this particular medium? A conscious decision that made you say, “This is it.” Or was it more of a natural predisposition, and then came the realization of the reasons why you express yourself through music? 

Lauren Auder: On the one hand, I hope to explore and branch out into many different mediums over my life. Life is very long, and I doubt that music will be the only one for me. What appealed to me immediately is the collective experience that music allows. That’s a quite rare component that doesn’t exist to the same extent in other forms of expression. In cinema, potentially, you can feel that, but there’s nothing quite like experiencing music with other people in the way it’s shared. That made me feel music was the medium for my message. What I’m getting at in The Infinite Spine is some desire for collectivity. So that was the reason for it on a conceptual level, and then on a purely emotional and social level, I’ve always been around people that make music, and I’ve always lived around music, and well, I love music, simply put —that’s the other thing. It works on all those fronts, but what attracts me is the idea of a collective shared experience that I can be part of.

Andrea Bratta: Speaking of shared experiences, contemporary culture lately shifted towards an atomization of the personal experience. Following up on what you said just now, your music starts with the particular and opens up to a generalization that someone who doesn’t directly relate to your experience can latch onto. How do you deal with bearing intimacy and transform it into something that others can relate to, enjoy, and share?

Lauren Auder: I think it often comes to making work as someone who greatly appreciates and consumes music. Back of my mind, I’m always asking myself, “How do I relate to the work I consume? And what enjoyment do I get? How do I find myself hooked to a certain tune?” The smaller and more idiosyncratic the focus of a piece of art, the easier it is to relate and project onto it your personal meanings. I realized that if I wanted to talk broadly, I couldn’t do that in large strokes; the way to express this stuff is by going as deep as possible and as micro as possible. Ultimately, no matter how infinitely small or infinitely personal the experiences, people are very similar to one another, and so is the kernel of our different experiences. I’m a huge folk and country music fan, and as I listen to that music, I’m listening to someone who has an experience that is totally different from mine, and most of the time, it’s really soul-bearing and deeply personal, as you say, and yet, that is the moment that I feel the most connected to someone, it’s not when they’re trying to reach out to me, it’s when they’re letting me in. 

Andrea Bratta: Another element that I’m curious about is the broad taste in music that yours gives away. Genre-bending is imprinted in our generational ethos as listeners and, in your case, as a musician, and with a tool like the internet, one can get easily over-informed, especially if jumping between disciplines. I know I do, at least. How do you approach the myriad of information and content that we are used to engage with? Does that sometimes confuse your creative process?

Lauren Auder: It’s something I’m still trying to figure out, these bridges between all the facets of my personality and interests and all this stuff. We live in a world where everything will be inevitably textured, we’re constantly referring back to a million things; there’s no way for me to even have a conversation without doing this. My true challenge is finding a way to keep everything together coherently. But it is fun and stimulating that we’re all building maps toward our cultural heritage. And in terms of making a record, if I’m using a certain instrument or some sound or whatever, or even quoting another drum pattern or sampling, these are the things that feel exciting because they are a nod to something that other people will pick up on, all these kind of things that immediately have a cultural cache. Instead of trying to isolate myself or deny intertextuality, I like to have these clear nods to what inspired me, another way to open up and hold a handout to the listener and be like: “This is where I’m coming from.”

Andrea Bratta: As you pour your own personal universe with its stories and points of reference into your music, do you prefer to retain control while you work on your music, or do you let go and invite others into your process? Do you believe in collaboration?

Lauren Auder:  Everything very much starts alone — the first melody, the titles, the lyrical flair, or thematic ideas, I will work on them in a quiet, isolated way. But, as I was saying earlier, one of my favorite things about music is the communal aspect of it, so it’s always been exciting to inject someone else’s perspective into my work or to have someone else kind of bring part of themselves into it. I definitely have a precise vision for how I want things to sound, but that’s also informed by my peers and, you know, the people I listened to and who I’ve collaborated with in the past. Once the ball is rolling, conceptually, it feels really exciting to open the doors to others, let them into my world, and take a step back to see what I’ve been making from someone else’s perspective. I think it helps with the idea of what we were saying earlier about finding hooks for who listen to get involved.

Andrea Bratta: You’ve been described as a boundary-defying artist. Your lyricism and hybrid sound make me think of Avant-pop, a term describing music that balances experimental or avant-garde approaches with stylistic elements from popular music, probing mainstream conventions of structure or form. Are there some musical/artistic movements you see yourself ascribable to, or do you reject categorization altogether?

Lauren Auder: Everything that is avant-garde adjacent is something I relate to in terms of the things that I really enjoy, and I listen to. It is a useful descriptor. Whether or not it’s precisely accurate is a whole other question. I’m quite proud to say that I genuinely don’t think a lot about genre when I’m making music, I’m lucky to be part of a generation that has had so much exposure to so many different things, so I guess labels can come in handy, but ultimately I don’t fully believe in them.

Andrea Bratta: So what were the inspirations that guided you while making the Infinite Spine?

Lauren Auder: As I said earlier, it was a whole process that took five years for me. So there would be quite a lot to mention! It was constantly evolving, but I definitely was fixated on pretty straight pop records lately, even though those are not my natural inclination. But I knew I wanted to integrate a pop-ish angle to this record, so I tried to immerse myself in a lot of solidly written pop music. That was very useful and helpful to me, as well as going back into the things that first made me fall in love with the concept of bands and music, mostly alternative 90s rock and noise. That was another sonic element I wanted to bring more to the forefront on this record than I have in previous records.

Andrea Bratta: You mentioned that you eventually see yourself moving to other mediums. Now that this record is out, and you closed, in a way, this 5 years chapter, what are you picturing ahead for you?

Lauren Auder: I want to continue living in this record, and in this world, you know? I don’t want to move on from it, I want to be responsive. This record has been such an insular thing, even though I’ve collaborated with many people, but they were a small group of about 15 people, so I want to see how it unfolds and what it means to others. It is not a closed chapter, is what I’m saying. I want to give it a chance to exist in a way where I can be responsive to how it exists now. 

Andrea Bratta: Sort of letting it breathe. I’ve seen on your Instagram that you disclosed the recent completion of your transitioning process right after you announced your record. It’s a big synchronicity. Are these two things parallel, that they somehow brought about each other? 

Lauren Auder: I don’t think so. I don’t know, these are like the mysteries of the world. The way things coincide without apparent reason.

Andrea Bratta: I forgot to mention that the issue is titled “Personal Investigation.” Kind of fits what we talked about; that’s another coincidence for us.

Lauren Auder: Exactly. But it happens this way. That’s what I guess what we were saying about letting things breathe, you know? Letting these moments exist; that’s a very good note we can end on.


Photography · James Robjant
Styling · Warren Leech
Makeup · Philippe Miletto
Hair · Hiroshi Matsushita
Special thanks to Good Machine PR

Amnesia Scanner & Freeka Tet

21st-Century Boy Band

“Maybe this is the begging of a chapter of hope” says Ville Haimala who, alongside Martti Kalliala, makes Amnesia Scanner. For the past few years they’ve been collaborating with French artist Freeka Tet on live streams, live performances, singles and now an LP. Their latest offering, STROBE.RIP, is a kind of snapshot into what could be a new era for the group.

In our zoom conversation, an internet lag causes their voices to converge in a surreal harmony that oscillates between temporal delays and shared laughter. But they don’t let it deter them. To Amnesia Scanner & Freeka Tet, technology is a tool to be tinkered with, deconstructed and recalibrated to create familiar yet uncanny results. There’s always a twist. Their live shows plunge audiences into smoke, sound and light, forcing them to partake in a ‘roided up sensory experience that fuses observer and participant.

The Amnesia Scanner project began online as cryptic videos and enigmatic songs sung by ‘oracle’ and produced by the ‘xperienz designers’. Now after almost a decade of building their labyrinth they’re knocking down the walls to reveal a harmonious exchange of ideas where even the crustiest sample plays a part in their audiovisual puzzle. The frictions of their past LPs have given way to something more rounded and smooth. The angst has been quelled and the group even go so far to envision a whimsical future as K-pop style idols.

Raudie McLeod: For most people Amnesia Scanner & Freeka Tet exist online through special URLs, streaming platforms, discord, even a local WiFi network etc. Where are you IRL?

Martti Kalliala:  Right now I’m in Berlin.

Ville Haimala: I’m in eastern Finland.

Freeka Tet: I’m in New York.

Raudie McLeod: You’ve recently played live shows in various cities around Europe and also two shows in Australia. How do you collaborate and practise when you’re in different time zones?

(The zoom called lags and FT, MK & VH all speak in unison, stop in unison, and then chuckle in unison)

Ville Haimala: This is how we collaborate… with a huge lag! Since the beginning Amnesia Scanner has never worked so much based on a traditional band or studio session format. It was a distributed project since the beginning and we’ve always worked with different people in different places. It’s quite an online native thing. I guess this is the way we also build our live shows. A lot of the work is done online before and then we convene and start putting pieces together.

Martti Kalliala:   I can confirm that. There is a group chat. There’s several group chats actually, with different collaborators and a lot of this happens asynchronously.

Ville Haimala: and a lot of chaotic folder structures of different medias.

Freeka Tet: Time for a little sponsorship with dropbox, I think….

Raudie McLeod: STROBE.RIP is a fairly stripped back version of your previous albums. It sounds as though Amnesia Scanner have been softened by the trauma of reality post-covid and the present living crisis. It’s an emo album in a way. Did you approach the songwriting differently?

Ville Haimala: Somewhat yes and somewhat no. I don’t think the songwriting approach is different other than working on some of the material together with Freeka. Songwriting for me is more like channeling. it’s not so much deciding ‘I’m going to make a song like this or I’m going to make a song like that’ it’s more so working on material and seeing where it ends up and I guess in that sense something has become more emo or more mellow. Or maybe the two previous records were so angry or loud and it felt good to have a bit of an oasis. I think STROBE.RIP is at the same time very soft but also very intense. There are sides to it. ‘Merge’ is probably the most distorted and loud song we ever made.

Freeka Tet: When we started to do music together during covid, way before the album, it was more band oriented. We spoke a lot about our beginnings when we all teenagers and started to do music. We were all in bands when we were kids. The emo came from that, the common ground of us as teenagers, so maybe it’s stuck a little bit.

Ville Haimala: Our first ever musical collaboration was a streamed performance that we did over 3 days where we arranged some of tearless and some unreleased material into literally unplugged versions and streamed them over this campfire setting. The seed for this collaboration was sown around that time.

Raudie McLeod: I’d been an amnesia scanner listener for some time, but my first introduction to Freeka Tet was the Unplugged: Part 5 performance at Terraforma 2022. The long prosthetic arm was spellbinding. You have a knack for mangling the expected, for example your piano keyboard software. How did you arrive at this point in your work?

Freeka Tet: The prosthetic animatronics is something in common with Amnesia Scanner. This absurd, almost dadaist vibe that I grew up with. I grew up watching Cunningham and Gondry. All that stuff, all the weirdness, I always liked it. As for the piano, my work in general is more performance based. I’m not a musician per se, as in writing music. I think I have always been really into making music with daily activities. My main performance before Amnesia Scanner was making music just with my face. I needed something very universal that I could play in Japan or Berlin or wherever and the reading would be the exact same. Very universal. The piano thing, there’s a performance I started to work on where I was thinking ‘I just wanna do music based on me reading and answering my emails’. They’re very mundane tasks but they could have a musical output. As for the prosthetic, I began to work with masks and stuff like that because making them is super interesting to me, the process is cool. When Amnesia Scanner asked me to join them for this performance I thought of what I could provide them. I thought back to this performance I used to do with a microphone and a remote to control my voice and the long arm was a way to hide this weird object. Also it’s a pretty iconic shadow to have a very long arm. It’s pretty easy to spot from afar.

Raudie McLeod: Your immersive live shows employ playful twists of the status quo, for example, Freeka’s microphone has a spotlight which points at the audience instead of the performer. The large screens feature fragmented text prompts and text-to-image jpegs. In the dark rooms where you perform I’m struck by the similar feeling to scrolling my phone in bed, illuminated by the screen, being presented whatever the algorithms decides. What are your thoughts on transforming viewers into participants?

Martti Kalliala:  we’ve always been very interested in taking the basic elements of a live performance, the visuals, the effects, and using them to the maximum or to the extreme. We force the audience to participate. You’re enveloped in smoke and it’s hard to orient, or you’re bombarded with strobes which have this hallucinagenic effect. In a sense we, I don’t want to say abuse the audience, but you almost have no choice.

Ville Haimala: It also seems like the music performance culture has this big pressure to be immersive and it’s fun to put it on steroids. To tweak the intensity so high that it’s like ‘Now you have the spotlight in your eyes. Now you have this bombardment of things.’

Martti Kalliala:  Amnesia Scanner started as this very online thing in the sense that we weren’t associated with it. The music only existed online. We thought it was very interesting to make the live counterpart as visceral and engaging as possible by pushing the physical impact of it to some kind of extreme. Now in some sense the live show has almost become the main medium of the project. All these different elements come together and it definitely has some primacy in our heads as the main output.

Freeka Tet: For the live shows, we’re trying to accentuate a band-feeling or a human-side of things, but when Amnesia Scanner is on stage, they have never really been in your face as people. The spotlight is pretty representative of what’s happening. It shines on the audiences’ face, and you can’t see our face. It’s not really clear what’s going on. On the other side, because it’s something that is mobile, the movement translates the human. It’s not a machine doing it. It becomes more organic, but it still anonymous. It prevents us from presenting our face.

Raudie McLeod: One of the comments in the ride film clip reads “finally, something to wake up to.” How do you feel that your new album together is giving people some reason to live in this confused post-modern society?

(silence for 5 seconds, then laughter)

Freeka Tet: We laugh about it. And all the different types of laughs you can have, the real ones, the weirder ones…

Ville Haimala: Since the previous two albums we’ve been going through some stages. There was anger, there was grief. Maybe this is the beginning of a chapter of hope.

Raudie McLeod: I read in previous interviews that creating your own music is about collecting all the sonic crumbs and making something unique from them, that your production process is kind of a secret. Is there anything you’d like to reveal about your process now that it sounds like it has changed somewhat?

Ville Haimala: It’s not that there’s some sort of secret formula. We have our ways of pushing different material through our processes and with the sausage at the other end we try to formulate something. We create sound as raw material and then sculpt something out of that. It’s always remained the same since the early days when the work was maybe a bit more collagey or less structured but I think it’s still in it’s core the same process. Now there’s maybe more of a songwriting angle to it but that’s been present since quite a long time. I personally feel it’s a natural continuum of things. As time goes by you find new tools and new ideas, but the basic process is still quite the same. There’s no secret sauce. It’s just our exchange and us bringing these different pieces to the table and planning something together.

Martti Kalliala:   All sound is equal in the process. Some crusty sample can play a part. Maybe it’s not 100% true but it’s mostly true since the beginning. In the beginning we were sampling stuff from surprising sources. I think now it’s very common. This non-hierarchy of sound is somehow the thing that has remained. 

Freeka Tet: The process is quite versatile. Sometimes a song can be really concept driven, based on the way the world around the music has been built, sometimes the music comes on its own and builds the world. It’s an eternal feedback loop. Sometimes a concept before can become music and sometimes existing music can bring more detail to the overall concept.

Ville Haimala: And that applies a lot to the project. On this album we’re working again with Jaakko Pallasvuo writing texts for us. We’ve been working together since the beginning of the project, almost 10 years. Instead of him writing particular lyrics for songs, he gave us a bunch of texts that ended up being the inspiration for a lot of visual and sonic stuff. The same with PWR studio who create a lot of our visual language, the briefs are never very clear, in that we wouldn’t go to Freeka and say ‘Hey can you build us this, or hey we need this visual’. This is maybe why the whole world can feel a bit random or incoherent at times, but that’s all really fun. A lot of stuff ends up being used in a very different way than it was intended. It’s an open project. I feel that it must be an interesting project to collaborate on contribute to because the end result is fairly open ended.

Freeka Tet: As a collaborator the way I would see it is this. Imagine walking into a teenager’s room. There’s a lot of elements. There’s visuals, there’s posters, there’s music playing. There’s a world they’ve been building. This is what Amnesia Scanner has been doing for a decade almost. You are free to look at it, take from it what you want and add to it what you want. That’s pretty much how it works. There’s a lot of freedom but the environment is set so you can’t be fully outside of it. There is already a direction.

Raudie McLeod: Back to the Ride film clip. What’s wrapped inside the black packages?

Freeka Tet: This is based on something Amnesia Scanner already did. When I started to work with them they had a lot of collaborators and a lot of details. I’m very detail oriented and there is one video they already did a long time ago which was just someone unwrapping objects and this stuck in my head. I like repurposing old stuff. I’m a big recycling guy.

Ville Haimala: Yeah it was the AS Truth mixtape video.

Raudie McLeod: I read a comment on the AS Truth video that said something like ‘this is what’s inside the ride packages’

Freeka Tet: Well I guess we will never really know what’s inside the package…

Raudie McLeod: STROBE.RIP might be the first album that lives entirely in the 21st century. Your press release states “amnesia scanner is now living in the world it built.” This world seems to possess a strange logic which sits at the limit of information and comprehension. My question is what comes next?

Ville Haimala: We have some ideas of where it’s going. Building this story with Freeka is definitely not over, there’s already quite a lot in the pipeline. As it’s been communicated somewhat, STROBE.RIP is a piece of a bigger puzzle which involves us doing a lot more performance work. We mentioned already the live streams. There are different formats which extend the project. There’s many directions.

Martti Kalliala:  Referring to the cycle of work that STROBE.RIP is part of, it’s unclear how it will end or how long it will go on.

Freeka Tet: Because we’ve been working together with the live before we recorded any music, one of the conceptual directions we had with this album was that usually you release music and then go on tour to defend it, where here we were interested in, not so much releasing the music at first and touring but building music through the live performances. One big difference was that most of the songs were sketched as band songs first. We thought instead of sampling bands, let’s build a band for each song and then sample it. The raw material was made-up bands. This could be maybe a direction… What those made-up bands were before.

Ville Haimala: The first performance we did with this material sounded like what ended up being the samples for the album. It ends up feed backing into itself over and over again. We would love to retain some kind of freedom to continue developing the material on this album or somehow and not decide on definitive versions of things.

Martti Kalliala: One of these end games that I’ve thought about is that we might start an idol franchise. Amnesia Scanner might transform into some kind of idol operation. there will be more information later.

Freeka Tet: Franchising.

Raudie McLeod: Like how Daft Punk license their helmets to imitators around the world?

Martti Kalliala:  Yeah or more like a K-pop style idol thing.

Ville Haimala: We’ve had this long running joke but also a real fantasy of having a Las Vegas style show where we could get a hold of infrastructure and do a show that runs at the same venue for a season. Maybe now that this dome has opened in Las Vegas it seems like the fitting screen for an Amnesia Scanner performance.

Freeka Tet: We could be opening for Chris Angel.

Ville Haimala: Me and Martti are Penn and Teller and you’re Chris Angel.


Photography · Kristina Nagel
Special thanks to Modern Matters

Yuri Ancarani

Practicing Reality

I met Yuri on a warm morning of July in Milan, the city where we both live.

The original idea was to interview him with specific questions concerning his works, but it quickly became clear that our conversation would span way beyond the question-answer dynamic. 

Unpacking his extensive body of work means tackling a plethora of themes: from the idea of reality and imagination to the concept of truth, from language, symbols and the importance of sound to the overall theorization on aesthetics and the genre of the documentary. The core of his works lies, I believe, in his idea of reality, and the consequences that this vision entails.

In each of his films, from the oldest series Memories for Moderns (2000-2009) to his most recent work Atlantide (2021) Yuri’s depiction of the here and now is so dense in its realness that it manages to transform into its opposite: imagination.

Quoting one of his key inspirational filmmakers, Dario Argento, Yuri says that reality is the true source of horror. The horrific aspect of the everyday is, however, not always sinister.  The extreme simplicity of things, the daily life of the portrayed subjects, can be felt as scary if seen from the outside, but there is also an element of fascination, a strange allure to it.

Moreover,  instead of inserting imaginative elements from the outside, Yuri portrays things as they are, showing how it is precisely the ordinary that allows the otherness of things to emerge. Reality in itself is framed as intrinsically imbued with possibility: everyday working environments, with their specific set of rules and vocabulary, contain a certain mystery, a subtle touch of magic, which does not come from the outside but from WITHIN. 

The usual unfolding of regular practices, such as managing a marble quarry (Il Capo, 2010), the functioning of an hyperbaric room in an underwater station (Piattaforma Luna, 2011) or performative actions in a medical setting (Da Vinci, 2012) is filmed in its naked truth, each environment characterized by its specific language. The vocabulary varies, sometimes it’s gestures, sometimes it’s a list of orders, sometimes it’s silence. 

The construction of a world of symbols within the realm of the familiar is what generates this switch: a normal setting becomes fascinating, mysterious, not fully graspable. This lingering feeling is strengthened by the employment of close ups and camera shots that are carefully edited, delivering a strange dichotomy between the closeness of the subjects, whose gestures are filmed in detail, and the detachment of the viewer’s gaze, who observes as an outsider. Intimacy is suggested and denied at the same time.

In this context music and sound play a key role, carefully studied either as translations of the epiphanic moment partially reached (see the end of Piattaforma Luna, for instance, where the composition by Ben Frost represents a moment of freedom, an escape from the almost claustrophobic reality of the hyperbaric room), or as a suggestion, like the ironic employment of orchestra music in The Challenge (2016), hinting towards the classical pomposity of Hollywood Cinema. 

Some of his films, like Whipping Zombies (2017), a documentary on a dancing ritual in the tradition of a Haitian village, are entirely without dialogues. The faithful documentation of this cultural phenomenon relies entirely  on the registration of sounds and music produced by the local community. In his San Siro (2014) the stadium is filmed as a concrete entity that functions as the container of an almost mystical happening, its architecture framed in its curves and angles, inside and outside. The stadium is the protagonist, the game is never filmed. Here again the only sound is given by the footsteps and the roar of the exultant crowd, and the preparation towards the football match can be read, once more, as a ritual, punctuated by different practical steps.  

This idea of rituality, seen as a constitutional element of any society and fundamental in the construction of meaning, comes back often in Yuri’s works. 

Its most blatant form is seen in the short film Séance (2014) in which psychologist Albània Tomassini entertains a spiritual conversation with the deceased Carlo Mollino. Fulvio Ferrari, tenant of Casa Mollino, serves the dinner to the two guests, one visible and the other invisible. Through the voice of Tomassini Mollino speaks about the sense and the aim of his passed life, as well as the direction towards perfection. This agonized perfection is reached, in Mollino’s view, through the conjunction of idea and realization. The projectualization of a work and its actual form become one, in what is beauty and truth at once.

This precise correlation was at the core of Yuri’s working method in his latest film Atlantide. While talking about this idea of truth he told me about his choice of not using any script for Atlantide, the dialogues in the film consist of footage collected during the almost four years of research, in which Yuri followed the protagonists in their daily life around the Venetian lido. 

The entire creation of the film was an ongoing process, in which also practical elements such financing was collected throughout and not entirely beforehand. This experimental approach allowed for a unique challenge, in an attempt of capturing reality ‘’as it is’’, reflecting precisely Mollino’s conception of perfection in the work of art.

After our conversation I left with different thoughts in my head and the belief that a lot had remained unsaid, but the overall feeling I keep to this day is the full comprehension of Yuri’s desire:  to create a work in which truth unfolds in its totality, in a temporal frame that is both process and end. For a brief moment, entirely real. 


ATLANTIDE (2021) Video stills
THE CHALLENGE (2016) Video stills
SÉANCE (2014) Video stills

All images courtesy of the artist.

Kate Ahn

It’s Shock Therapy, Baby

Jasper Johns once said, ‘Hollywood is forever young, forever sexy and forever swollen with abundance.’ This makes sense when looking at the figures in Kate Ahn’s paintings. 

However, abundance in these works is qualified by searing faces and billowing forms stretching across the image and twisting in the frame. They are abundant in mixed yet meaningful messages, pained and charmed. Painting in series, Ahn depicts herself in varying stages of movement. Nearly always nude. The relevance of this nudity is open to interpretation. Still, Ahn’s subjects bring to life the late critic John Berger’s words, ‘Nakedness reveals itself. Nudity is placed on display. The nude is condemned to never being naked. Nudity is a form of dress.’

These figures are not just nude but clothed in meaning. They are overcorrections, pronounced perfectionism with an outcome of exaggerated beauty. A swagger of confidence sways on a bed, bounding between big buttcheeks and long legs, wavering between buoyant breasts and the torrential currents of bedsheet and brick wall. These forms are idealisations, idylls of what could be. They are powerful, exposed, fearless, and nuanced in nakedness, fiercely facing everything with glowing skin and stripy socks.  

Ahn is in Los Angeles. She grew up on the United States West Coast and has lived there for most of her life. In recent times, Ahn’s paintings have developed an ethereal strength. She discusses her work and artistic intentions are spread across the social and physical dermis of expressive geography. Ahn’s world is mapped around acrylic paint and produces figures that produce shock therapy that will force any white wall into submission. And they are also nude, but that’s only half the story. 

Billy De Luca: You are in LA right now. Did you just have a show there?

Kate Ahn: I had a show downtown at Gallerie Murphy — it’s an extension gallery of Terminal 27 on Beverly Blvd — and they just opened. I was there for one month, which was a great experience. It was very emotional for me because I sacrificed a lot for this show. It was almost 2 years of work, it was everything I had in me.

Billy De Luca: The commercial gallery scene can be terrifying. But having that proximity in LA must have been great. Did it get overwhelming having such access to your exhibited works?

Kate Ahn: Oh, no, I was even there after the opening a few times. I was so much a part of everything. From the paintings to the merchandise with Terminal27 and just the gallery preparation itself, I was there at every step.

Sometimes it is hard to collaborate and find people to take up your vision, but when there is synergy and trust, things always turn out beautifully. I also enjoyed being in the gallery to say hi to whoever came by.  

Billy De Luca: That can be a very personal experience. It changes the context when you see the person who painted the image before you. And how come you liked the collaborative aspect?

Kate Ahn: I like it, but I also think it can be challenging and sometimes divisive. I feel like I am also thinking about the audience and what the general public can digest each time I collaborate. As an artist, when you create your work, you can really just go all in. I don’t think about whether everyone will love it, but you have to consider that in collaborations. 

Having that restriction is also nice because It makes you think outside the box. You have to please other people and yourself; it allows me to have my art in many mediums. It isn’t just up on a wall: It can travel and transform into many different objects and forms, which is super exciting too. I try to do as much as possible within my freedom, but sometimes you can’t go completely explicit – for example, on a pair of shoes.

Billy De Luca: Finding that balance must have taken time. When did you start painting and getting into the fashion side of the arts? Did the transition help with selling your ‘ideas’ to the world?

Kate Ahn: I’ve been painting since I was  6, but I’ve also been into fashion since I was in my mother’s womb. A lot of it came from her. She’s always loved fashion and the arts and was the first person to introduce me to these worlds. From the outside, we are like complete opposites. But actually, I’d say there are more similarities than differences. I have this feeling that my mother sees me as a reflection of herself. Deep down, she’s secretly cheering me on and healing her inner child through me – even though she’ll NEVER admit to that haha. It’s like she’s looking at a mirror to see what she could’ve been (if all the rules and societal pressures didn’t alter or make her afraid of what she really wanted to do). I think I am my mother, and she is me.

But back to fashion haha. She definitely appreciates the design and artistic aspects of fashion, but I think she, just like many other people, is also attracted to the idea of class status that is prevalent in that world. This is where I’d like to think we differ: I love the art of fashion, but sometimes it can feel a little like high school. Personally, I don’t care about what’s most popular this season, who’s seated where, and what somebody is wearing at a show. Although I understand the allure, I just enjoy what makes me feel good based on my own narrative and understanding of each piece. 

Fashion has done a lot for me. It has helped me deal with the insecurities I’ve had my whole life, but it also gave me the freedom that I felt like I didn’t have. Clothing and accessories were my costumes and a mask. I wore it like armour.

Billy De Luca: That’s the beauty of being an artist, don’t you think? Fashion is in that same weird middle ground. It’s like hair. It will grow out of you and can get long enough to be another limb and part of who you are. But sometimes, it can get knotty and be a pain.

Kate Ahn: For sure. I definitely turned to painting to create these fantasies since I had such poor self-esteem (and still struggle with it). It’s how I cope to get through all of life’s bullshit. I think that’s how it is for a lot of artists. We are all struggling and trying to figure it all out. 

Billy De Luca: Do you always paint yourself? 

Kate Ahn: I have since I was 6. I remember one of my first paintings of a beach filled with all these girls, and all those girls were me. I’m not kidding. There were like 20 versions of me on that beach. But even since then, I’ve always encountered these “teachers” that did not seem to fuck with my vision! When I went to a bunch of art classes (a lot of them were Korean art classes), I had a couple of teachers who were very chill and open-minded, but I also had many teachers who were very conservative. One didn’t even offer figure drawing classes because it was ‘inappropriate’. I thought that was so crazy.

Billy De Luca: Where was this?

Kate Ahn: I grew up in Irvine — It’s a really nice area. You know, the suburbs. It’s deemed the safest city in America, with a huge Korean community. But I always hated it. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t want to leave. I feel privileged to be brought up in such a safe environment, but the environment felt so stale and mundane. One of the art classes I attended was 20 minutes away from my hometown, but the guy who ran the place was horrible. I eventually found another class that meshed better, but as much as I wanted to paint what I paint now, due to my age and environment, it really wasn’t an option. So I focused more on objects and foods that represented the female body and sexuality at the time.  It wasn’t until after college that I got to my self-portraits. 

Billy De Luca: Why was that?  Where was college?

Kate Ahn: I didn’t attempt to do my self-portraits until after college. The love that I got from my parents (after getting accepted into USC) felt too good to stray away from, especially after so many years of rebelling during my tween and teen years. So, naturally, during that time, I gave into their ways — which meant giving up art as a career. I went to school and went from art to Communication (with a minor in Finance). I told my parents — and convinced myself — that I would go into banking and make a lot of money. I thought that after that, someday I’d get back to my art…But that didn’t happen. I never did any of that besides graduating, but that’s something, right? 

I tried my best to conform, but it was just not in me. After my second year, I realised I was never going to be the person they wanted me to be, and I didn’t want it either. After graduating in 2020, I painted my first self-portrait. After my various jobs, I saved a bunch of money and said, OK, let me do what I want … I bought my first HUGE canvas. It had been my dream since I was 14 to paint on a canvas like that and to have enough time to work on such a scale. I was still shy and didn’t show my face. I marked it off. But the bodies remained. They were all me, variations of me or dreams of what it could look like. It became a fantasy.

So yeah, that was my first self-portrait, and it sold, so I thought, ‘I must be doing something right!

Billy De Luca: And how did your parents feel about that? 

Kate Ahn: They are still upset. I can sympathise with how they feel. As conservative parents, I think the subject matter alone would be difficult for them to digest. But on top of that, there is also a very real fear of their only child not having the stability that a more traditional career choice can provide. It’s not easy selling pieces, for sure. But that first piece was definitely something I took as a sign to just go for it. 

Billy De Luca: Do you think that painting is easier than the administrative and sales aspect?

Kate Ahn: Painting is way easier. It would be a dream to just paint and not worry about the selling side of the job haha. It makes me depressed sometimes, and it can feel like things are predestined in this industry. It’s so much about who you know. I ask myself a lot: Are these the things that make or break me as an artist? Do I need to be a person that can talk up my work or have someone willing to do that for me? Yes, it’s discouraging. But in the end, I can’t see myself doing anything else. I can’t stop what I’m doing, and I believe that if you really love it, you’ll find a way.  

Billy De Luca: Beforehand it was very much about the quality of the work and the consistency it bore in improving over time and being relevant in such times. Now, it is about self-marketing. You can have an agent and a Gallery, but if you don’t have a personality, then you can sell paintings all you want — but you may not be memorable. With your work, the images strike and transfer energy. Audiences have received that energy and are buying in. You can sell a painting, but you have to sell a self-portrait.

Kate Ahn: Yeah, I agree. Social media has definitely inflated and put this importance on not just your work but a person being an entire package. It’s like people themselves have become conglomerates: you’re the actor, the producer, the director, etc. Everyone has to become a multi-disciplined brand that must follow the fickle nature of social media. Like a walking billboard. It’s overwhelming, but it can be great because you can get your work out independently, cutting out the middleman like agents or galleries. But at the same time,  there’s a negative side that comes with oversaturating the avenues that lead people to not take you as seriously. I think of Andy Warhol, who essentially went for it and did it all. And unfortunately, having to deal with silly repercussions where some circles of the art world stopped taking him seriously for doing things unconventionally at the time. Fast forward to now, it’s kind of ironic how his way of doing things ended up becoming the standard today. Even now, it’s still hard to navigate what the perfect balance is between doing it all and still being taken seriously.   

And man,  there are so many days where I have wished I could paint anything else. Any object, like food or something. It’s easier to sell that as an idea. Instead, I paint really explicit self-portraits. And on that, there is a double standard. Women are in this really unjust and tough position where we are constantly objectified living in this patriarchal world, but the moment we start owning our own sexuality and our own bodies, we become lepers.  As much as my work receives a lot of love, it also receives so much hate. Even though we’ve been painting nude women for centuries, I think it is still very new for women themselves to be the ones painting our own bodies. I guess that’s too progressive even for this world haha.  

Billy De Luca: And what does that mean to you?

Kate Ahn: That’s one of the very reasons I continue to paint my self-portraits in the nude.I am fighting for my right and everyone’s right to own our sexuality and our body and control our own narrative because that’s a human fucking right. Sexuality isn’t everything, but to me, it is a representation of freedom because that was the first real restriction I faced in my life, and I think many others faced it too. I think women especially have to deal with the double standard of not being able to deal with the freedom of being a sexual being. In my work, I can own my sexuality. I can be who I want to be in my work. 

Billy De Luca: So it’s more than just you?

Kate Ahn: In a way, it is more than me. I think my work can become confusing as I am trying to fight the patriarchy, but at the same time, I am also trying to heal from my own self-esteem issues that may very well come from the male gaze. Critics could say I am just perpetuating the patriarch all over again, and I hate to say it, but maybe they would be somewhat true. But I can’t help the fact that being able to fantasise about myself in these various bodies and shapes helps me appreciate my actual body. It’s similar to how I play with clothing, I put it on like a mask and play this character enough to learn that my real self is actually not far away from my ideal self…it was just my anxiety and self-doubt clouding my brain. Maybe that’s unhealthy in some way, but I think a lot of people can relate to the journey of finding true love for yourself and that sometimes it takes unconventional ways to get there. And at the end of the day, I believe that by taking control of my own body and my own self-esteem issues, I still, in many ways, fight the patriarchy.  

Billy De Luca: Does the commentary influence you as much as it pushes you forward? 

Kate Ahn: With or without the commentary, the paintings would still be like this. But it does help my narrative. The more hate I get, the more my paintings will develop meaning. It just proves to me what I need to express in my work and why it’s important. Some people think I just paint porn…but for me, I feel like I sometimes do paint porn, and there shouldn’t be anything wrong with that. 

Billy De Luca: Is it hard to balance professional composure while being a human behind the work? 

Kate Ahn: Yah, it is difficult– at least for me, it is. I mean, being an artist to me means that you are choosing to be vulnerable. I know many artists that can keep the vulnerability strictly within their work but for me, I am, unfortunately, a person who tends to word-vomit everything I am going through within my work and outside of it too. I know it’s not the best habit. I know most people respect those who have that perfect ‘professional composure’ — characterised by a confident fearlessness, keeping their cool, even when shit is going sideways in their personal life. This might be completely delusional, but I’d still prefer to find a way to continue to be this open book and also be respected for it just because I feel like it’s so much a part of my character. 

Billy De Luca: However, having strong work which is the best thing that you put out at that time. That is what is going to be a huge driving factor. You might not sell. You might go from being very financially comfortable to financially uncomfortable. But through that ringer, one thing is still chugging along, still developing.  And that’s your painting. 

Kate Ahn: That’s right. And that’s why I’ll never stop either. The paintings are me. There’s no costume or façade or anything. It’s my soul. If I think back to where I was two years ago with my painting, it’s like…incomparable to my skill now.  So yeah, that helps me feel better. These feelings of insecurity have inspired me so far, and although I’m working on that, it does still help me produce. The emotions come out, and it makes the art worthwhile. You don’t have to be ‘healed’ to make people feel something — I think I’m just too hard on myself since the years are never easy, and there are so many constant changes. Even if it’s bad feelings, it’s feeling. If you’re feeling something, it’s art.

Billy De Luca: And what else do you see is changing?

Kate Ahn: For my new collection, I want to do more facial expressions similar to the whole 1970s erotica time period, where everyone looked so happy, vibrant, and alive. I feel like that is true for me since I’m a very smiley and happy person. I also want to continue to include more pieces of clothing and lots more socks, as that still is so much a part of me. I did do that a lot this year as I did, like… a lot of stocks.

Billy De Luca: I was going to ask about those…It reminds me of how men in the business sector ‘jazz up’ a suit with a sock. You end up being naked, showing the socks you wear, and they can be colourful and different, but they balance out the grey world of suits. It’s a stabiliser.

Kate Ahn: It’s an homage to my love of clothing…In a way that still allows me to be nude. Certain things go on when you conform to such a society. It’s so difficult to show your identity and be unique and yourself. So yeah, socks are awesome, and you can have so many cool socks. 

I’m obsessed with socks.

Billy De Luca: Besides the clothing, where do the colourful backgrounds come into it? Do the star-shaped pastels of pink and green come as afterthoughts?

Kate Ahn: The background comes later. I usually don’t know what to do for the background. That being said, I feel like it has to do with my inspiration from Japan, especially from love hotels.  Japan is just…different. I want the paintings to feel happy and alive. I learned a lot about love hotels recently. Back in the 70s, during the women’s liberation movement and just after they legalised abortion, all these love hotels popped up, and they embraced and nurtured the idea of sex and love. You can see it in the way they built these themed rooms and structures. It’s a fantasy that invites more fantasy. The beds are spinning, there’s colour everywhere, and the adult fantasy becomes a reality. And I love it. I love how it is accepting of the fact that humans are sexual beings. It’s happy and human. 

Billy De Luca: And does your subject matter and work rely on where you are geographically?  

Kate Ahn: Yah, I definitely think so. When I grew up in the suburbs, the constraints and staleness of the city definitely played a part in my work and also the person I became. That’s where you can see the rebellious nature of my work. And being that I was only an hour away from LA, it became a dream of mine from an early age to move here — which I finally did at 18. I think the environment here in LA is so nurturing to being different. It helped me gain confidence in my work. And the actual physical beauty of the city — the madness, the graffiti, I would say some of the strip clubs down here, too, have definitely inspired some of my works. 

Billy De Luca: Being in LA is historically seen as…intense. ‘Jasper Johns once said that Hollywood is forever young, forever sexy, and forever swollen with abundance.’ How do you feel about LA?

Kate Ahn: I think Jasper Johns is right. LA is forever young, sexy, and so swollen with abundance that I think it’s only natural to have this love-hate relationship with the city. You can’t be young forever. BUT maybe you can be sexy forever — depending on who’s looking — but living life in abundance will always catch up to you. That’s the thing with LA as much as it is a beautiful city, it’s also really superficial, but hey, I think you can find that just about anywhere in the world. I hate it here, but I also love it, and it will always be my home.

Billy De Luca: Last question… Does that solitude drive you to keep going? 

Kate Ahn: I don’t know if it really drives me. I think I am just so used to being alone. Being an only child basically prepared me to be an artist, you know? I think what drives me is that from a very young age, I had a dream of who I was going to be when I became a grown-up, and even though I still have ways to go, I am essentially living it. Even with all the people trying to bring me down and bet on my downfall, I will never let go of my dream. That’s what will always drive me to keep going.  


KATE #3, 2022
All Images courtesy of the artist.

Yolanda Andrade

Dios es bisexual, Oaxaca, 1994

Street photography and cultural identity

Yolanda Andrade (b.1950) is a Mexican photographer and one of the most prominent figures in the artistic landscape of Latin America. After graduating from the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York, in 1977, Andrade developed a career as a street photographer, experimenting with both analogue and digital photography, gaining international recognition as one of the few artists capable to capture the identity of a specific city and culture.

An accomplished teacher of photography, Andrade has taught since 1992 at the Escuela de Fotografia Nacho López and Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City, as well as the Instituto Tecnológico of Monterrey, Mexico. Among other accolades, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts in 1994 as well as grants from the Mexican National Endowment for Culture and the Arts to fund her publications and projects in 1993, 1997, 2000 and 2003. Her work has appeared in more than ten photographic books, including Los velos transparenteslas transparencias veladas (1988) and Pasión mexicana / Mexican passion (2002).

Your work fits in the broad category of documentary photography, or as you prefer calling it, street photography. Can you tell me about how you started and what prompted you to photograph in the first place?

I started taking photographs at an early age. I enjoyed photographing my cousins with an old camera, which I was the only one to use. I remember that I went to the camera store to have the film developed and asked to have a new one installed. I started working when I was 15 years old, when as a gift to myself I bought a Kodak Retinette IA. It was a fine camera, manufactured in Germany, and you had to set the shutter speed, the lens opening and the distance. I learned the basics reading the instruction manual, and following what the film box said about the conditions of light: sunny, open shadow, shadow, etcetera. I started by capturing vacation shots and simple moments taken from my daily life. 

Afterwards, until 1973, my interest was to study theatre and movies. I attended an acting workshop for about three years. That was the year when my mother died and I had a series of changes in my life, which made me lose interest in what I thought was a vocation in theatre art. I needed to find a new interest related to the creative fields besides my daily job, so I turned my eyes again to photography. In the lab of a photo club in Mexico City I learned how to develop film and how to print in black and white, with the aid of photo magazines. In 1976 I decided that I wanted to make my passion a true profession, so I went to study photography at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY. It was at this institution that I got to meet the most important street photographers of the time, like Robert Frank, Walker Evans and Lee Friedlander, among others, whose photo books made a great impact in my later work as a street photographer.

Looking at an overview of your pictures there is a clear switch around the year 2000, in which you suddenly leave black and white analogue photography for digital and colour. Could you tell me what prompted this change in your practice and in what way it affected your work?

Switching to digital cameras and colour was going to happen sooner or later. I think that for some time I was reluctant to make the change, but with an invitation that Mexican photographer Pedro Meyer made to a group of photographers to make a digital book in one day, which meant to shoot the images, design the book and upload it to internet the same night, prompted me to buy my first digital camera. At first, it was a slow process because I had to learn a new technique, but after a while I became fascinated by the colours in my pictures and finding a new way of seeing. This was the beginning of a new phase for me; traveling abroad became more frequent and photographing other places besides Mexico City was a refreshing new start as a photographer. Walking the streets of new cities, discovering new surroundings made me feel as excited as when I printed my first black and white photograph in the darkroom.

Cebras Tijuana, 1998

Talking about your working process, it’s clear that you think in terms of series, every single picture is part of a broader thematic umbrella, in the attempt to tell a story or simply to convey the impression of a specific cultural phenomenon. Your passion for photo books is therefore explained: they allow you to deliver your work to the fullest. Thinking in these terms, when do you know when a work is finished?

I would like to add something to your previous question. My interest in photo books started when I was studying at the Visual Studies Workshop, where there was a whole library and research centre that allowed us to explore the best photo books in the history of photography. But to have a book of my photographs published was a complex issue. The new digital technology opened to me the opportunity to play, explore, design and publish small, limited edition photo books on digital press. This way of editing my own books allowed me to publish a second edition, gave me the freedom to change the sequence or decide to let out some photographs or add new ones. To answer your question, I think it’s hard to know when a work is finished, as you keep producing images from recent shootings or you rediscover some pictures from reviewing old work. 

In general, the medium of photography is the attempt to freeze time: how does this practice relate to memory, and the time passing in an ever-frenetic world that constantly changes?

Every image, at least in my work, is a fragment of a memory of what I’ve seen and experienced in my life. One single photograph, even in the fast passing of time we are dealing with in our contemporary world, contains several layers of information about what we remember, what we observe in the actual taking of a photograph, and what we add when we edit and process the image. These actions are actually like a blending of the past, present and future.

Guerrillera gay, CDMX, 1994

“What intrigues me more about photography is to freeze an instant in the flow of time, and turn it into an ever-lasting image.”

Relating to this, we talked about social media and the way we perceive images nowadays, consuming enormous amounts of visual information at a high speed. I am curious to know, how do you think this new fruition method impacts social work?

Artefacts like cell phones, with high quality cameras to take photographs, are evolving at a fast pace every moment, offering automatic programs that produce perfect and beautiful images at the hands of millions of people around the world. They are the equivalent of the first Kodak cameras made for the amateurs. Perhaps, in this case, the themes are the same as in the past: family shots, vacation, social gatherings, sunsets and outstanding landscapes, but far away from the work of photographers, who are dedicated to build a body of work.

“In my opinion, the over production of ‘good’ or ‘beautiful’ images by amateurs complicates the comprehension of photography by the general public, especially when they are exhibited in galleries or museums.”

In a previous interview, while describing the first years of your work and the photographs you took in Mexico City, you stated that:

Life in the streets of Mexico City is the common denominator of my photographs. What I propose is the presentation, from a personal viewpoint, of different aspects of Mexican culture: images of death, religious processions, political events, social life, street theatre, popular culture, sexual identity and the combat against AIDS. The sum of all these themes also constitutes a visual autobiography.

In what ways does your work constitute an autobiographical reflection? How do you combine the individual with the collective?

All my photographs reflect my interests, my ideas, my way of thinking, as well as my experiences and my personal history. All together they are a sort of autobiography where the personal and the collective come together, creating one single story. 


Photographs · Courtesy of Yolanda Andrade

Ramla Ali

Ramla Ali’s enlightening fight in and outside the ring 

Professional boxer Ramla Ali (born in Mogadishu, Somalia) is definitely one of the forces of change of our generation. The featherweight boxer became a voice for refugees as she herself had to seek refuge with her family in the United Kingdom, from war-torn Mogadishu in Somalia in the late 1990s. Having earned a first-class law degree at the respected SOAS University of London, and delving further into her successful professional boxing career, Ali is forging for herself and others a trailblazing path ever since the undefeated boxer (7-0 in her professional career including two knock-outs)  won the English title in 2020. Making history at the Tokyo Olympics by earning a bronze medal and thus becoming the first Somali women to compete in boxing, at the Olympics, Ali is showing through the years, her perseverance despite what she has been through, and her determination in changing the game. Earlier this August, Ali performed a career stepping fight against García Nova in Saudi Arabia, as the undercard on the Anthony Joshua and Olexandr Usyk fight. Her career in fashion as a model and public figure has also been a way to provide representation for young women. As a Unicef ambassador and having funded the non-profit organisation Sisters Club, in 2018 in London, providing a safe space and free sport classes to women, Ali’s activism serves an amplifier for social causes, more specifically women’s rights and equality.

Ramla it is such a pleasure and honour to have you as one of our cover stars for this issue. 

Firstly, I wanted to congratulate you for your recent wins on your fights against Agustina Rojas at the o2 in London and against García Nova in Saudi Arabia. How are you feeling now? 

Honestly, A little tired. I had two back to back camps with little time to give my body any rest. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.

“I love boxing, I love being in the ring. It’s the only thing that gives me purpose and the only thing that allows me to feel brave.”

A career stepping stone recently was your now historic fight in Saudi Arabia earlier in August against García Nova, as the undercard on the Anthony Joshua and Olexandr Usyk fight. How was the preparation leading up to it? 

This fight itself was the most important of my career and throughout the training camp there was a pressure to perform and showcase women’s boxing, as I wasn’t just representing myself but also all women in combat sports. So the world can see that we deserve the same platform and opportunities as our male counterparts. My training was located in Southgate, adjacent to Compton in Los Angeles under the guidance of legendary coach Manny Robles who has been responsible for a number of world champions. It’s not an easy regime with Manny and I’ve chosen one of the hardest gyms in the world to train at but with this, comes the experience of being alongside some of the greatest talents in the sport today.

“My life has never been easy so I naturally have chosen the hard path to get prepared. “

It has only been since 2012 that Saudi women were able to compete at the Olympics in boxing. Your presence there is also a step towards equality in the country. What was it like, as a Muslim woman to be able to fight professionally in your holy land? And how do you wish this impact the future generations?

2012 was when women were first allowed to compete in the Olympics but Saudi Arabia as a country only allowed the participation of women in combats even more recently than this, my fight recently being the first professional female fight in history there. The hardest part though as I had the support of the promoters, and the region was really trying to educate people on why we choose to do this.

“My goal has always been to break down barriers for women and this competition allowed us to continue pushing for greater equality and inclusion in our sport.”

I was also fortunate enough to perform Umrah whilst in Saudi, which was an incredible experience getting to visit Mecca for the first time in my life.

How do you usually work with your coach and how was it to train under the supervision of the legendary Manny Robles? 

Working with Manny has opened my eyes to the very elite level of boxing training. Whilst in Los Angeles, I train twice a day, six days a week. Followed by one additional remedial session, two sports massages and one physiotherapy session (dry needling, cupping etc) and a further 2-3 sessions spent in a Hyperbaric Oxygen chamber. I do two sprint track sessions a week and one long run. I spar three days a week, followed by further boxing sessions for either technique or conditioning and then I also employ world famous strength and conditioning coach Mattias Erbin from Argentina who looks after all my strength, conditioning and recovery work. Mattias has worked with Lucas Matthysse, Jorge Linares, Brian Castano, Jamal Herring, Vergil Ortiz to name a few.

Do you have a favourite match of yours and what was so special about that fight?

In terms of amateur fights, it would have to be my African Zone Title gold medal in Botswana in 2019. The whole experience was just amazing, it was my first time at a championship in Africa which is the opposite of competitions in Europe or further a far. The fighters are tough and don’t stop but there is a real warmth and friendship between the countries and the teams which I loved. In terms of my favourite pro fight in boxing it would have to be Saudi because of the importance of the occasion and the fashion in which I won.

With each of your fights, it must be a constant progression and constant learning path. How was your journey to the Tokyo Olympics? 

The journey to Tokyo over the last previous five years was a real adventure with my husband/manager Richard, who was also my coach at the time during my amateur days. From getting lost at 2am in West African ghettos trying to find our hotel with signal and not being able to speak the language, to desperately finding cheap place’s to wash our clothes in the slums of New Delhi before catching a flight to another tournament somewhere else in the world. Experiencing an Olympics Games during Covid. There was a lot of up’s and downs. I don’t feel like I got the full Olympic experience, but im so glad to have competed.

What have been the biggest challenges you have had to go through and overcome? 

One of the biggest challenges like most female athletes in a male dominated support, is simply being a woman.

The biggest challenge for me initially was the lack of funding and support I received when competing for my native Somalia around the world. If people think it’s hard to compete as a woman in sport, it’s even harder as an African. I honestly don’t know how a lot of these incredible east African runner’s do it. I’m often told that women’s boxing is booming now and more opportunities are coming. Which to some degree is true but until more women tune in and support female athlete’s its hard to command pay and opportunity equality when our viewership is so much smaller than males.

When I fist started boxing, female boxers were so far and few that I didn’t even have a changing room in my local club. I either had to wait for each boy/man to get changed or walk home wet and sweaty.

Who/what has inspired you? 

I’m inspired by so many. Jackie Robinson because of what he had to endure on his journey. Venus and Serena have done so much for women of colour in sport. Ilwad Elman in Somalia is a hero of mine. 

You founded the non-profit organisation Sisters Club in 2018, in London which focuses on providing women with access to different sport disciplines including football, boxing and more.  Could you talk more about it and why you have created it? 

Sisters Club is a charity I founded in January 2018 which has recently taken on funding support from Nike & Lululemon which provides free weekly boxing classes to up to 300 women across London in four locations. The classes are specifically aimed at religious and ethnic minorities and those that have suffered domestic abuse to learn self-defense through the sport of boxing. But it is an inclusive class that welcomes all women from all background, races and beliefs. We have recently started hosting events across other sports including rowing, running, basketball and football as well to give our ‘sisters’ the chance to experience others disciplines. My hope is to expand the initiative to the U.S, Africa and the Middle East with the help of future partners. I started it out of the need to ensure women who look like me and have shared experiences are not left behind due to their background or their financial situations. It was born out of a need to create a community and platform that provided the opportunities I felt I never had growing up.

Do you have any future initiatives planned in your native Somalia?

I do hope to have the chance of expanding Sisters Club into Somalia at some stage.

You have mentioned before that the career of a boxer is a short one. Have you already envisaged what you would like to do after?

I do live day by day and try to appreciate the experiences and opportunities that come to me in the present but yes I have already begun to lay the foundation for what I hope to be doing for the next twenty years post sport.

The theme of this issue is IN OUR WORLD. Which impact would you like to make in this world? 

A quote that the great Mohammed Ali once said really resonates with me ‘your service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth’.

“For me, of course I’d love to be known for being an incredible boxer, but more than that, I want to be remembered for how much I helped others.”


Talent · Ramla Ali at IMG
Photography · Dafy Hagai
Fashion ·  Clara Mary Joy
Makeup · Megumi Matsuno using Dior Capture Totale super potent serum and Dior Forever
Hair · Joe Burwin
Set Design · Haleimah Darwish
Photography Assistant · James Clothier
Fashion Assistant · Diana Scarpignato
Special thanks to Richard Moore


  1. Coat MM6 MAISON MARGIELA, head scarf vintage RICK OWENS, boots Vintage and bracelet Stylist’s own
  2. Jacket ADAM POULTER, skirt and shoes DIOR and ring CARTIER
  3. Jacket and shoes DIOR, shirt Stylist’s own, shorts vintage and ring CARTIER

Matias Alfonzo



Model · Nicole Atieno at SMC Models
Photography · Matias Alfonzo
Fashion · Camille Franke
Casting · Julie Sinios
Production · Eugenia Vicari
Hair · Tina Pachta
Makeup · Victoria Reuter
Set Design · Nina Oswald
Fashion Assistant · Laura Caufapé
Set Design Assistant · Ruby Oswald


  1. Dress TOM FORD and shoes GIVENCHY
  2. Full look DU CIEL
  3. Dress LOU DE BETOLY, shoes JIMMY CHOO and bracelet BVLGARI
  4. Dress MARC JACOBS, shoes CHANEL
  5. String DU CIEL, jeans DIESEL BY GLENN MARTENS and pleasers ZANOTTI
  8. Full look JIL SANDER
  9. Dress SPORTMAX and shoes WANDLER
  10. Sunglasses BOTTEGA VENETA, jacket and skirt SANKUANZ and necklace RM ATU GELOVANI
  11. Full look GIVENCHY

Rebecca Ackroyd

Rebecca Ackroyd, Hunter/Gatherer vii, 2018

From fragmented memories to ordinary encounters: Locating the subconscious in the work of Rebecca Ackroyd

Rebecca Ackroyd, 27, 2017

I speak to Rebecca Ackroyd via Zoom from her studio in Berlin in late August, not long before her solo exhibition, Fertile Ground, opens at Peres Projects in Seoul (until 13th October). She will also be exhibiting at this year’s Frieze London and in December at Art Basel Miami Beach. Fertile Ground, like much of Ackroyd’s practice, delves into the surreal whilst being grounded in the monotony of the everyday. In playing alone, for example, a cast of the artist’s hands in a sink is at once familiar and strange; the hands are disconnected from the body, whilst a blade – bloodied? – lies conspicuously in the basin. Those familiar with Ackroyd will know that epoxy resin casts of the body, often in lurid, sometimes grotesque colours, are a central part of her work. And oftentimes, fragments of these casts reappear in different bodies of work. In the Seoul exhibition’s title piece, fertile ground, the artist casts her arms, upper torso and legs wearing a pair of boots that belonged to her mother in the 1960s. The physical fragmentation of the artist’s body in this piece unpick the complexities of time and memory in relation to family history and connection. This can be evidenced by the fact that, as she tells me during our conversation, she has previously cast her mum’s ageing hands as well as her own, ‘and then in 30 years’ time, [mine] will be old and possibly look like my mum’s.’ This, she says, stems from an interest in preservation. But fertile ground also recalls, or reimagines even, an earlier sculpture, Tonguing the fence from her 2021 show,100mph which also features those 1960s boots. The 100pmh exhibition, which as the artist explains below came out of a dream journal she made during the first lockdown in 2020, had a crimson-tinged sleaziness to it. And if Fertile Ground grapples with the subconscious in order to examine how our sense of self is produced and reproduced through the memories we think we recall and stories we tell ourselves, 100mph delved into a very different part of the psyche. There, the works – and in particular Ackroyd’s gouache and pastel pieces – seemed to unlock a Pandora’s Box of what the artist terms ‘bad thoughts’. In pieces like 1,000,000 Eggs, green flesh gleams through fishnet tights, the strangeness of the tinted skin offset by a blood-red hand rested slightly coquettishly on a hip.

In unison with other pastel works on show at the exhibition,100mph recalls the garishness of Otto Dix’s triptych of Berlin nightlife from the early 1920s; in Metropolis (1925), like Ackroyd’s pastel works, there’s an uneasiness that oozes out – as a collective uncertainty seems to seep through the polished cracks (or, in Ackroyd’s case, grazed knees). Even the most exciting of circumstances – for Dix, a bustling club playing jazz music, or for Ackroyd, the experience of catching a flight to go on holiday as her work Singed Lids from the 2019 Lyon Biennale depicts –  can be boring experiences. Resin casts of airplane seats are positioned in the artist’s character disjointed fashion, with the remnant of a leg or a suitcase making the odd appearance. In that work, Ackroyd again recalls a collective encounter, pieced together through the fragmented lens of a distant memory. Of course, the comparisons with Dix are limited – he was attempting to capture a broken society in the aftermath of war and hyperinflation, and the sexual politics are a far cry from Ackroyd’s own handling of sexuality and femininity. But nonetheless, both seem to touch on how we, guided by that inner voice in our head, collectively go about trying to make sense of the world around us. And below, as the artist discusses the importance of ordinariness in her work, it seems that sometimes the most ordinary of circumstances feature in the strangest of dreams.

Rebecca Ackroyd,
Flower form, 2022

Rebecca Ackroyd, Flower form 2, 2022

Something that strikes me about your work, and seeing how it’s installed in exhibition spaces, is the idea of the encounter – and encountering the work in a space. For example, you’ve previously spoken about the use of a pub carpet as a recurring motif since you first used it in previous exhibitions in 2017, which is both part of the exhibition install and the work in a way. How do you think about the work within the space, and how do you visualize the experience and the encounter that the audience will have with your work in situ?

It really depends on the show and the mood at the time that I’m making the show. The last show I did at Peres Projects Gallery in Berlin, 100mph (2021), took place during lockdown and the basis for the work started from a dream journal I was making in the first lockdown. The works didn’t directly correlate to the journal though I ended up showing drawings from the dream journal in the show on a separate table. [But] it was mainly drawing because I didn’t have any assistance to make sculpture, and I was just working on my own with my boyfriend (he was my assistant!) 

The work was really informed by the idea of dreams, psychological space and something that’s more of a subconscious thought that is buried or hidden.

Rebecca Ackroyd, RAY!, 2018

“There was very much this relationship between a sort of deep internal space and bringing that out. I was really interested in how that could kind of be expressed through sexual desire or ‘bad thoughts’; a sort of internal mechanism of thinking that we don’t express.”

That was the driving force behind a lot of the drawings. 

The way install or approach altering the space really depends on the show, the content and the way I want it to feel. But I am definitely interested in there being familiar elements, like a carpet – the pub carpet, that I’ve used repeatedly, and I used again in 100mph – as a way of signifying a time, or a place, or a culture, and then contrasting that with these out-there drawings or psychological abstract works. I’m really interested in bouncing between places, and I think that’s definitely reflected in how I assemble a show. 

Rebecca Ackroyd, Hear Her, man hole, 2018

For your most recent show, Fertile Ground (2022), reference is made to an encounter you had with a building site in London. But to what extent do you look for an influence or an inspiration when it comes to making a body of work, or does a body of work come out of something more instinctive?

I think it really depends, like with Fertile Ground, you mention the building site – I wouldn’t say that that memory necessarily meant, or influenced, the actual works themselves. I think I’d started making the work already, and it’s almost like I look for anchors that root the work in different ideas.

Rebecca Ackroyd, 1990’s REST, 2018

And that particular memory felt like it grounded the show somehow. In fact, I wanted the building site to be the show image, but then I found the photo of it, and it was such a boring photo. I thought the idea was more interesting than the reality. In my head, I’d built it up as this really overwhelming visual encounter – which I think it was, but it just didn’t translate into an image at all. It just looked like a building site.

“It’s more interesting when the work is layered and bounces between different ideas of abstraction, figuration, personal history, and then more shared ideas of existence or life – or something more ubiquitous, like a shop shutter, or a tool.”

I’m interested in how work can be layered in that way basically; layering content and layering ideas.

Rebecca Ackroyd, Tide Turn 2018 UK, 2018

In Fertile Ground, you’ve got the cast of yourself and you’re wearing your mum’s boots from the ‘60s, which is a very personal connection to your own experience. But, from what you just said, I get the impression that your work is less autobiographical, and the use of personal history is more a vehicle for exploring certain themes at a particular point in time?

Yeah, definitely.I mean it’s difficult, isn’t it? I think the term ‘autobiography’ sounds very literal, and so Idon’t necessarily see it as autobiographical. I see it more as ‘biographical’, in the way that I’m really interested in stories and memory, and how that becomes so fragmented. That informs so much of who we are. With the memory of the building site, I had this vision of something, and then when I actually looked at it, it was really underwhelming! And so, sometimes the thought of something is much more exciting, or inspiring than the reality of it.

Rebecca Ackroyd, RA MULCH, 2018

That also correlates with the creative process for me. I was talking about this to a friend recently, another artist (Sam Windett)– we were saying how when you’re making a show, you’ve got the idea of the show in your head and you’re really driven towards it. And then, you have the reality of being confronted with what you’ve actually done in the space.You’re suddenly in reality and you have to just deal with the fact that you’ve made these works. And that’s what it is – I feel like there’s always a tussle between the idea of the thing, and then the thing itself. 

That’s really interesting because the underwhelming reality of the building site memory also ties into the idea of the mundane that features in your work. In memories and dreams, we pick up on small things and remember them, but the reality is definitely not going to be what you thought it was. In works like Singed Lids (2019), for example, there are these bits of everyday detritus – the suitcase by the side of the seat. Is that mundane, or a way to be able to visualise through small fragments the things we can’t fully recall?  

I think it’s both. In Fertile Ground, there’s a cast of a sink with my hands. I’m really interested in ordinariness, especially with the sculptures. I like the idea of just capturing something that is quite unspectacular, you know – like doing the dishes. I’m more interested in that than I am a performative gesture or something. It took me quite a long time to realise that there’s something really special about living with ordinariness; appreciating normal, day-to-day experiences.

Rebecca Ackroyd, Carpet burn, 2022

And then the fragmentation within the casting is very much about referencing something incomplete, which again links back to the idea of a memory, or, with the Singed Lids piece, a remnant of something. Casting is a very direct way of being able to do that, and I see it as being related to photography in terms of capturing a particular moment. 

I think that’s really interesting because it’s almost like a reliable, true record of something. Whereas, with other mediums such as drawing, that’s always going to be more of an interpretation. And so, I wanted to ask you about the process of making work, and the contrast between having these sculptural works using materials like resin and wire, versus pastels, for example. How do you balance using these different approaches of making, and how do they then work together to create a wider body of work?

I came from making only sculpture to making these small drawings between bodies of work. And then, gradually, the drawings became the pastels, and now they’re as important. I don’t really see a distinction between the processes now.

Rebecca Ackroyd, Hunter/Gatherer viii, 2018

But with sculpture, the thing I struggle with is how full on it is physically. It’s something I have to plan a lot more and think about more in terms of practicality and how things are going to work.But quite often, when I make a cast, we make them in pieces in the studio, and then they’ll just kind of sit around the studio for months. Then eventually, they get incorporated into a work.

“So, in a weird way, my studio is a bit like a sort of graveyard! And then, they get brought to life.”

Rebecca Ackroyd, World view, 2020

I use the drawing and the sculpture in different ways. With the casting, it’s about bringing an element of reality into the work – using myself or a friend or family member, and then grounding that in a particular moment.

With the drawing, there’s definitely a greater freedom in terms of making, which is why I started them. I pretty much make every single one in a small version before I make them big, so I can work on a lot at the same time. I often have numerous ideas that I want to get out, then I can look at them and it gets translated onto a bigger scale. Or they just stay small, or I never show them.

“Making work is about finding ways in which I can have as much freedom as possible.”

It’s really important not to be precious, because once the drawings are on a bigger scale, there’s more pressure there to make it work. I think it’s really important to have the freedom to fail all the time. And I feel like with sculpture, it is this battle to not fail because it’s much harder to articulate. It’s a very different approach, but I feel like in a lot of ways, they inform each other.

Rebecca Ackroyd, Half moon or empty, 2020

You mentioned that you might cast something and then use it at a later date in a body of work. Do you see different bodies of work as a progression, or as a response to a previous body of work? 

I think it really depends. With the sink piece in Fertile Ground, I never thought I would show it because it was just on the floor of my studio for years and then it just seemed to make sense suddenly. So then it gets used in a completely different context.I think it’s probably a bit of both because, when I’m conceiving a show, and especially when it’s in a particular space that I’ve been to, I will be mulling it over and figuring out what I want it to be. I’ll imagine how I will enter that space and then that will inform certain elements – like what I might do to that space. But in terms of the individual works, I think quite often I just have an idea for work, and then I’ll make that piece. But sometimes, it’s less formed than that; it’ll just be a fragment of something, and maybe I’ll make a metal stand for it.

Rebecca Ackroyd, Tonguing the fence, 2020

It really snowballs when I’m making work for a show. I’m not a very good planner; I think that’s just the way I work, though. I have to be able to change and shift things.But then it’s funny, because earlier today, I was thinking of a show that I don’t even have planned, it’s just an idea for a show of work.

“I like to have that openness, and I also like to not necessarily know exactly what a show might be because it’s much more interesting and exciting, and it means that the work can turn into something unexpected.”

With Singed Lids, I don’t think any of the curators even knew what I was doing because it was just like, “here’s a cast of an airplane seat”, or “here’s this cast of a leg”. You couldn’t see the whole thing. I didn’t even see the whole thing until I was in the space; I had no idea if it was going to work or be any good. It’s quite terrifying to do that to yourself, but I do think that that can be one of the best ways to work, it allows the work to unfold. 


Artworks · Courtesy of Rebecca Ackroyd and Peres Projects, Berlin

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