you remember how much i like patricia!
so it was a great honour to have her graciously answer a couple of my questions:
how comes all your pieces are so sick? you impale, squish, boil, grind, dismember, behead, etc most of your very cute characters. what’s up with that?
in my works i deal with questions regarding the way our society deals with the various forms of violence. violence is a basic experience that we already have in the sandbox when other children of the same age hit us over the head with a shovel, pull our hair, and throw sand into our eyes. our childhood was not all that idyllic! haven’t there been times when we, in a fit of rage, tore out an arm or an eye from our teddy bear?
cruel injuries and uninhibited slaughter are a standard element of the visual productions of the hollywood machine and of the games industry. they have changed and moulded our perception of the reality of violence and death. we succumb to the fascination of an aestheticized depiction of violence in the media.
i use the comic figures because they work in (almost) any part of the world, everybody recognizes them immediately. the “toons” are usually anthropomorphized animals that are depicted in a strongly caricatured way. In defiance of all laws of physics, they survive the most dangerous situations. if flattened by a steam roller, they immediately rise again without injuries – they are immortal.
are you intentionally using needlework (generally viewed by people as a woman’s skill) in order to make a feminist point?
i got the idea of crocheting (not knitting) my artworks during the final period of my study of sculpture at the academy of fine arts in karlsruhe, germany. i was looking for materials not yet established in the arts, such as wood, plaster, or metal. in addition, I wanted to become independent from machines and electricity supplies.
so, in the early 90s, i discovered wool for my work and started crocheting. it was a time when most people refused to take that approach seriously. all my colleagues were making fun of me for working with such an old-fashioned material. so my first work was a little bomb.
of course that i take advantage of the image of ‘housewife art’, so that, at first glance, my works appear innocent. on a closer look, however, people will discover a sort of vicious irony. the humor i play with, is of course a rather dark one. macabre or biting topics are all clothed in crochet works.
wool is ranked low in art and art history. it is not the material of which major works of art were made, and it is considered genuinely feminine. if women artists deliberately work with it, we reflect our status in art, culture, and society.
my work also poses the question of why craftmanship plays a more important role in the arts than needleworks.
i know you have been a berliner for most of your life. how has the city influenced your work? by the way, i have recently been there and i hate the fact that i missed your show, bad luck. haha! fitting name!
i moved to berlin 3 years ago, that’s not the most of my life. but the city is an inspiration. i live in neukölln, a neighbourhood where around 150 different nations live together and also a lot of young people from all over the world.
how do you see the future? is there any hope left?
i don´t think much about the future. i think of the next work and the next exhibition, and than we will see… i hope that i have enough yarn and good ideas for the next twenty years.
the homepage of your website shows a couple of aliens with their sexes out. it reminded me of paul mccarthy’s apple heads. you can see the connection, right? he also uses the contrast between the sick and the cute to mind blowing effect. but i have to say that i prefer you…
i get my inspiration through every-day life. the humor i play with is, obviously, a rather dark one, the same humor that paul mccarthy also uses. macabre or biting topics are all clothed in crochet works. in a subversive tongue-in-cheek manner, i mix together the absurd and the bizarre, careful observations of everyday life and an interest in humanity, to create these different phases of my work.
do you make the pieces yourself or do you have assistants?
all my works are handmade and it takes months to finish a piece. i make all my works without assistants. many artworks are very difficult to create, for instance miss piggy, she is more than 1 1/2 meter high.
in times of mass production, it seems almost paradox to produce something by hand, in handiwork. through these processes, i question the value of work made by hand.
i imagine people get creeped out by your pieces. do you have people fainting or vomiting at your shows?
in general people like my work, they like the humor. the irony or the humour contained in the work are most definitely intentional. it is important to me to let the beholder access the work. i consider causing a laugh or a smile as a positive and legitimate means of approach. this of course does not mean that i do not take my work very seriously. i rather view this type of irony as a ‘means of seeing through’. but there was once a little child who started to cry…
“no one has ever written, painted, sculpted, modeled, built, or invented except literally to get out of hell.” – antonin artaud, van gogh, the man suicided by society. do you have a comment of that?
there is a grain of truth in it…
what is your standpoint on vice and drugs?
i smoke and sometimes have a beer, so i have my vices too. but i think that life is very thrilling also without drugs.
what’s the advice you’d give the young you? you know, patricia, n years ago…
take everything in life with a sense of humour…
thank you very much!
note: the romanian version of the interview can be found on vice.ro where i recently started collaborating.
photo credits: patricia waller