For some people, the path to becoming an artist is a clear and deliberate choice. But for others, it may happen unexpectedly, as they slip into the role of an artist by chance. Anna Herbert, a multidisciplinary artist, never thought of herself as an artist until she participated in a residency and someone introduced her as one. However, when she started studying art education in 2018, her instructors asked her to work on her own art, which made her question if she was an artist or if she merely did art. “I never felt comfortable calling myself an artist,” Anna admitted.
Provoking Human Interaction
Anna puts the community and the encounter at the center of her work. She provokes meetings between people through actions such as cooking, building, moving, and playing games. Her goal is to connect people and stimulate exchange and interest in each other. “I generate tools, experiences, and happenings that involve people to participate and contribute something,” Anna said. The artwork is not necessarily a physical object; it’s the experience, interaction, and results, sometimes in the form of pictures, audio, or text. She doesn’t limit herself to a specific medium or material; the crucial aspect is what arises from the impulse of the object, the space created, the meet-up, the question, or the task.
images by PILOTENKUECHE or supplied by artist
The first project Anna considered art was a photo project. She was asked to create a work related to gender, so she asked someone to fuse their body with hers in a live overlay of two videos. “For me, the making was the most important part,” Anna explained. She realized that the experience of the immersive moment of having a different body projected onto hers was the feeling she wanted to convey. As a result, she created a workshop to give people the opportunity to play with this concept.
Embracing the Unpredictable: Anna’s Non-Linear Work
Her current project is a reflection on the past 1.5 years in which she suffered a lot. “It’s a kind of externalization of my pain into something physical that is a bit like a being,” Anna shared. Her current project also thematizes the concept of being there for each other, care work, and the burden of it. The artwork is a body made of cloth, long heavy arms and hair, and inside is a sensor, so that it always cries bitterly as soon as you put it on the floor. The recipients must carry it, pass it on, or just accept that it cries and sucks. Anna explained that the idea is to address the care we give each other as humans in the world, and the weight of carrying the problems of others. “It’s important to know and set boundaries and to ask for help,” Anna emphasized.
The Value of Authentic Connection
For Anna, the most inspiring aspect of her work is questions. “For me, it’s nice if someone asks me to work on a specific topic. It can happen that I’m doing something far away from this topic, but it’s an important starting point,” she shared. Anna is inspired by her inner feelings, injustice, problems between people, and loves working in teams. She is also inspired by other people’s ideas and thinking in the direction of a more common and communal world.
As for the most challenging aspect of her work, Anna mentioned that since her work always involves the participation of others, it can be challenging to convince people to weigh in, especially if they are retracted, full of prejudice, or dismissive. “The artwork is the moment of perception, and it’s always authentic. I cannot make it better afterward, and I cannot change it because it already happened,” Anna said.
Regarding the value of her work, Anna believes that it’s precious if people take something home, if they feel something, and if they have fun.
written by Sarah Boada
Keep up with the latest from Anna through her website or catch up with her at our upcoming show.
Vernissage 18 March 7-10 PM
Open Sun 19 – Wed 22 Mar 4-8 PM