Colours We Know No Names For
Anna-Lena Krause’s project Colours We Know No Names For explores perceptions of reality, and constructs of colours, through a mixture of mediums and performance. Poleta spoke with Anna-Lena about her process of creating and research, as well as working collaboratively, and incorporating performance.
Your work is influenced by specific words and their meaning. If you had to describe your practice in one word, what would it be and why?
The words duality and diversity describe concepts where different aspects can live side by side. My practice centres on the idea that many nuances exist together, with neither holding more truth than the other. There’s multiple ways of looking at the world. The term Rashomon effect, describes how if there are multiple witness’ to an event who go on to share the same story you know it is a lie. Our perception is a deliberate action, shaped by many different factors and experiences, ultimately diversifying our collective understanding of the world.
Can you give us an insight in to your practice. What inspires you to create and where do your ideas originate from?
Most of my work is inspired by reading. I like to read fiction, non fiction and academic books on the same topic. Reading provides an opportunity to explore different approaches, genres, and fields of research of the same subject, which art can then function as a bridge between.
As a multimedia artist, how does working with different mediums allow you to explore perceptions of reality?
People have different sensitivities to their environment, we can be in the same situation yet our experience is completely different. We have different frames of reference, through the simple fact that we have different memories, different upbringings, maybe even a different language. All of this shapes how we see the world. Maybe you perceive the world more through sounds or smells, while I am more of a visual person. I think it’s interesting to question what different senses or experiences a memory holds for you.
Colours we know no names for focuses on perception as a fluid concept. Could you walk us through the relationship between perception and your composition of images from the series?
My framing is usually quite clean, I like to find order, to allow a stage for something more chaotic and uncontrollable. When you invite people into a space there is only so much that you can predict, it’s like a performance, in which my camera becomes one of the performers. I started my project Colours we Know no Names For during the first lockdown. I went for long walks in nature and I became really interested in optical illusions and colour. I started wondering whether colours exist from outside or within? I came across the fact that blue was the last main colour that got introduced as a word, for a long time blue as a concept didn’t exist. Scientists believe we didn’t see blue before the way we do now. If you look at literature preceding it, for example in Homer’s famous Odyssey, you find he describes the sky as ‘red and the ocean as ‘brown’. This made me realise that our perception is influenced by language and shared ideas, which are influenced by our experiences but also our environment. Based on where you are, colours have different meanings. Blue in the western world symbolises security, it is a popular house colour among financial institutions, while in China blue symbolises death. The title of the work anticipates that there might be things we haven’t been able to name yet, which doesn’t mean they don’t exist, we as society are constantly in flux and it’s natural that our language and understanding will change with us.
You mention that the visual world is influenced by our environment, language, and experiences. Could you explain your process of creating work?
I like to observe from as many different points of view as possible. Recently this led to working with multiple mediums; film, sculpture, photography, and language all exploring the same topic. Working with different forms of representation allows me to study and highlight the difference and inequality of experiencing, bearing witness to, or sharing a situation.
A lot of your work revolves around the human body, and a connection between subjects. What’s your experience of performing for and behind the camera?
I usually feel a mix of drained and happy after a big shoot. The intensity and focus of working on one thing leaves me feeling a little empty once it’s over. An experience I share with other creative friends who work as visual artists and musicians. At the same time it’s incredibly rewarding when something that previously existed in your head becomes tangible and real.
There’s a subtle, playful connection between the subjects in the series. Is this an important aspect of your practice?
My work is very collaborative. I work with friends and members of my community, people who share my understanding of the world, which makes the process effortless and playful. There’s a lot of trust and understanding. Usually we plan day trips together, talk and create, this is how the majority of the colour work has been shot.
Contrasts of movement and colour feature a lot in the series. How do you think contrast influences our perception of an image?
We need separation and contrast between subjects to interpret our surroundings, for example; inside and outside, up and down, right and wrong. The world is full of contrasts that are also connected, but these separations aren’t always easy to distinguish.
Thank you for your time, all the best for future ideas and collaborations.
In this issue we feature photography and writing that explores Play through playful processes of photography, play therapy, nightlife, performance and identity, collaboration, virtual realities, and war play.
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