Layers of Time 05

museum in progress asks: Anna Artaker

For museum in progress’ exhibition series "Layers of Time" in DATUM you chose the date 11 January 1929 as basis for your artwork. What significance does this date have for you, what do you associate with it?

This date indicates the evening on which the Cuban communist Julio Antonio Mella (*1903–†1929) was shot in the open street of Mexico City. The only witness was his companion, the photographer Tina Modotti (*1896–†1942). For me the date is of less importance than the photographs which document the incident as a historical fact. As is still usual a photographically documented reconstruction of the assassination was organised at the murder scene (photography was introduced very early in Mexican police work). The extraordinary thing about this case is that – after the re-enactment of the crime did not bring any results – with prominent help from the artistic left-wing camp Modotti arranged a second reconstruction, in which she performed her own role.

Have you worked on this subject before in other pieces of art?

For quite some time I have been dealing with the correlation between depiction and reality. "History" respectively historic photographs, like the ones presented here together, are primarily interesting for me as a model for this correlation, i.e. only if they show concrete objects which allow the exploration of the complex connection between depiction and reality. The case of Mella is not merely interesting, because the corresponding images do not show the real incident, but only reconstructions that are more or less fictional: The existence of more than one such reconstructions points to the fragility of this method of investigation and to the plurality of perspectives that can be adopted in the re-enactment.

Which aspects of your artistic work are especially important to you?

The connection to a reality beyond the art world: that my art is not only about itself and its general conditions, but – in the tradition of realism if you will – that it seeks to make statements about the world, to appropriate reality and to contribute to its shaping.

If you could determine one of your works of art to outlast the course of time and to be still admired in the far future, which would you choose?

Right now I would say: GESCHICHTE, created in 2010 for my exhibition at Secession. It consists of stereophotographs taken from the death masks of prominent figures in Soviet history (until 1952), presented in display cases: a piece which touches on many of my interests. I hope that more artworks will follow in which I can accomplish this.

Are significant personal experiences important for your art? If yes: Could you give an example?

Among other things the reading of certain authors, like Michel Foucault, was significant for me, because they have introduced my to a new world view, which I partially try to transform into works of art.

What is the appeal in creating a work of art for public spaces or the media?

The use of media space (although in this case it has already been shaped by the label museum in progress) is a possibility to put to the test my claim for relevance beyond the art world which I mentioned above and to examine the effectiveness of art outside institutional art spaces.

To what extent should art fulfil any socio-political tasks?

The conviction that art has socio-political potential is a premise of my work. This neither means that it always succeeds to fulfil this claim, nor that it is supposed to do so in every case. In a way it is the task of the artist to express her own definition of art in her work/s.

How would you characterise good art?

Good art manages to put new persepctives into the world and to develop alternative approaches to everything that is.

What are the limits of art?

Potentially with each work the limits of art are being newly explored, analyzed and at best moved.

All participating artists of "Layers of Time" are asked to answer the same questions. In this way the serial character of the project is emphasised as well as the artists’ individual points of view, and the interested readership gets additional information about the works and their creators.