30 November 2012
Skype interview-chat with performance artist Annie Abrahams, creator and performer of Angry Women (2012) collaborative research project.
CHRISTINA PAPAGIANNOULI. How did you come up with the idea of using the internet in your work? What was your inspiration, your starting point?
ANNIE ABRAHAMS. Long time ago, in 1996, I had a show in a gallery in Holland and wanted to be there virtually. So, I made my first website and had daily email exchanges of text and sometimes very small drawings with the visitors of the gallery by telephone.
How would you describe your work?
Already in 1996 when I started to make net art with html I considered my work partly as performance – in that space of public solitude. I still like to see all my activities (also writing, teaching etc.) as performance; my online work is that too. I normally do not make a difference between online and offline – it is one fluid universe, where I try to understand how machine determine our human relations. I think what I do is a hybrid thing with aspects from fine art, theater, but also film, poetry and even science. Sometimes I work more in one direction, sometimes more in another, I like this transversality, this messy status.
Would you suggest that the methodology changes between online and offline art?
Yes, online you only have the screen to interact with (this will change in the future, but it still is like that) – all you “use” passes only through your fingers and eyes. IRL you can communicate with your whole body.
Online is a special environment with limitations, but also with new aspects, for instance in webcam performances you see often faces longer more closely than you ever see them in real life – this, I think, makes the viewer more easily affectively relates to what he/she sees. Why? Because IRL one only sees faces that close of people we love, like (mothers, fathers, lovers).
Do you use the Internet as a tool or as a space in your work?
That is not easy to answer; I think in the beginning I saw it more as a space (a public space of solitude I said at the time), now I speak more about processes and behavior. I can’t say it is a tool; it is too overwhelming, too impenetrable to be one. The internet is too big to be a tool, too independent to be controlled, but parts of it I can use as “tools”. It is also a space to be, a space not yet completely, hardly discovered, a space where communication is different from communication IRL.
What are the key advantages and disadvantages of using the internet as a basic platform for your work?
Strange enough I am now going to tell you that the internet is not a basic platform for my work, it is “a tool” to access human behavior, to study human behavior.
Advantage, you can hide behind the screen. Disadvantage, you can hide behind a screen.
Do you have any Brechtian influences in your work? And I am quoting: “Abrahams creates situations meant to reveal messy and sloppy sides of human behavior, to trap reality and so makes that reality available for thought.” This sounds very Brechtian
I like the link you make with Brecht and indeed he is someone I am interested in, but also for instance, Peter Handke, Reiner Werner Fassbinder, Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, and more recent for instance work by Ivanka Müller.
Interviewed by Christina Papagiannouli on 30 November 2012