When I first saw a work by Angela Kaisers I was intrigued. I couldn’t immediately get what was happening on the canvas. I had to took my time to recognise the characters’ features and then focus on the situation. That is precisely what she wants. Angela Kaisers creates a sense of estrangement using familiar icons from our childhood memories or from our everyday life. In doing so, she forces the viewer to deeply think about our society’s issues and to realise how information can often be misleading. From my desire to better understand her practice comes the following interview.
You follow a complex process to realise your works. First you choose the images, than you create the digital collage and after you either paint or embroider the result on the canvas. Someone may think that the digital collage is already the artwork, why do you feel the need to “make it real”, to transform it into something analogical?
A.K.: For me this final step in my art production is a vital key not only regarding the aesthetic side of my works but its conceptual side as well. I see my works as triggers to start discussions on various
political topics. But in order to get the viewers’ attention, and by this I don’t mean a quick glance but have them take the time to take in what they are being offered, I need to create works that intrigue them and stop them in their tracks. The aesthetics of my paintings and embroideries in combination with the usage of well-known images from
popular culture have let me achieve that goal – much more so as if the works were to only exist on a screen or as a mere print on paper. If you
like, you could say the aesthetics of my works function as eye-catchers to the political issues I refer to.
In the series echoes you reflect on “How collective memory is created and develops over time and how easily it can be manipulated”. We live in the fake news era which is a real social problem, especially with the recent exasperation linked to the Covid crisis. It seems like people completely lack critical sense and they are not able to recognise real information from fakes. Is it something that you are exploring further? In your opinion, how we got here?
A.K.: I think it’s important to tackle this issue further, by pointing out how easily fake news and misleading propaganda can sneak into everyone’s daily stream of news but also by challenging and revealing specific fake news stories. The problem is quite overwhelming but not a new one. Thanks to social media it has become so much easier to reach out to so, so many people at once. In these times of having less and less real personal interaction and discussions – not only due to the Pandemic but in my opinion a side effect of social media in general – it has become harder to counter fake news and propaganda.
In the series As the world Turns, you address themes derived by the news, pop culture, social issues and so forth, juxtaposing cartoons and reality. How do you decide which are the images to blend together? Do you want to raise a specific emotion for each of your work or is more the humorous, general effect that you are pursuing? For example, I think getting together Greta Thunberg and the Queen of hearts it’s just brilliant. Greta becomes a modern Alice but, on one hand we cannot consider her as she was lost in wonderland since she is almost the personification of conscience itself. On the other hand, though, her effort in making this world a better place may be considered naive, therefore the comparison with Alice. How did you come up with that?
A.K.: Basically, I aim to create a narrative with a twist. The twist is what makes you laugh and cry at the same time – and hopefully reflect on the
subject matter a bit further. Starting point for my works is usually an incident – current or timeless – that I want to put up for reflection and discussion. I do not separate emotions from humor here, as I believe they go hand in hand in my work and trigger each other. Nor do I want to tell the viewer what exactly they should feel and see in the work (hence
the very neutral title of my works) as long as I manage to touch you and make you reflect on the narrative on display. If we look at the example
of the Greta Thunberg work, “Alice in Wonderland” came instantly into my mind for two reasons: the storyline and features of the main character
as you yourself describe it but also the instant association I had of the Queen of Hearts with Donald Trump and all the other “white old men”
getting wound up by the power and agenda of a “teenage girl”.
In your career which are your greatest achievements and which are your goals for the future?
A. K.:I see my greatest artistic achievement in my works: to have found a way to combine political content and aesthetics in a way that neither one lacks due to the other. I aim to continue using my art as a platform to open up discussions on political issues, to intensify this discourse and reach out to a broader audience – within a gallery context but also by rethinking art spaces and exhibitions and the way we encounter art in general.
Do you have any upcoming projects you want to share with us?
A.K.: Unfortunately due to Covid-19 some events had to be postponed to the unforeseen future but I am very excited to be working with a wonderful
Berlin curator on a project happening outside of restricted spaces, in the streets of Berlin this Winter. It’s still a bit hush hush, but more news coming soon on my website.