Anna Bruder redefines spaces. She turns them into magical and surreal environments where every mundane item, from a chair to a ketchup bottle, is given a new lease of life and a breath of fresh air…
Basically, she makes Claire Sweeney on 60-Minute-Makeover look like a complete novice when it comes to D.I.Y. home renovation. However unlike our Claire and her fancy assembly of colour coordinators, bathroom-stylists and professional pillow-fluffers, Anna and her team’s impressive transformations employ a monochromatic, clear-cut combination of stark white wallpaper and black permanent marker pen along with evident patience and captivating attention to detail.
As a practicing artist, theatre designer and prop-maker based in London, Anna has had the opportunity to work in a variety of settings and venues, some more unconventional and prestigious than others. From major art galleries and theatres (Somerset House and The Barbican), to TV commercials and full-scale performances at Wembley Arena, her work successfully translates into many varied artistic contexts.
Anna’s latest exhibition brought her to East End club and creative hotspot Dalston Superstore where, working alongside newly appointed curator Saskia Wickins, she continues to pursue her design concept ‘Aline’. According to Anna we should “expect to see it everywhere, whether in a gallery, an old bus or a school in Zambia. The 2D monochromatic adventure begins.” i-D online spoke to Anna about her past realisations, her current inspirations and future aspirations.
How do you go about choosing and adapting your design aesthetic for each project? Usually a director or producer chooses the space I exhibit in. I am then taking into account the dimensions and characteristics of a space. When I am Set Designing for a theatre performance, I am thinking about telling a story through images.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your current exhibition at Dalston Superstore… The people I work with everyday inspire me. I’ve done a great deal of workshops with young people and children, and their drawings and sketches continually inspire me. Children have a unique simplicity to their work that I love. I also love Keith Haring’s work and have been obsessed by symbols and signs for many years. Finally, I love giant black marker pens. I love the immediacy of them, the fact that I can just pick them up and create in seconds really excites me. What’s different about Aline from other projects is that it allows me to work alongside the existing functional space. Initially, I cover the space in white, making it neutral, erasing the existing aesthetics. Following this, I redraw the objects as symbols in black outlines. I’m mirroring the environment in my own style. At Dalston Superstore I had to deal with tables, chairs, the light and of course the 1000′s of people that would go through the space. Each space has its own individual functionality and its own social construct, which I have to be aware of when I am creating.
Do you consider ‘the act of producing an installation’, ‘the finished product’ or ‘the photographic documentation of the space’ to be the true artwork? I’ve always been about the process. I love giving birth to an idea. It’s about the journey that we go through, about the connections we make and how that is translated through the work. I feel this is critical to the work’s success. For me, I love the teamwork towards a press night/private view, the enjoyment on the first night and then I’m done with it and I’m searching for the next one.
Do you have one creation from your archive that stands out for a particular reason? In January 2011 I designed ‘My Dad’s a Birdman’ for The Young Vic Theatre and it really affected me. It was a project that worked with young people and children from the local community. It was the beginning of my obsession with the black marker and I created a set similar to a wendy house, using symbols and signs that are now a major part of my Aline show.
Aline runs at Dalston Superstore until the 28th of November.
Text: Michael Stephens