coGalleries is an artist-lead project driven to empower professional artists by bringing the gallery to the artist’s workspace! This is where I met the Berlin based multidisciplinary artist Annique Delphine and I had a little chat with her about her creative process and feminism.
KALTBLUT: Hello Annique! It is a pleasure to meet you in your atelier! Could you describe it in three words for us? Annique: Sure: pink, messy, fragrant.
KALTBLUT: How does your usual atelier day looks like and when you work outside, what is first, the idea or the location? Annique: A regular day would me buying flowers at the Großmarkt, then getting to the studio around 9.30, put on some music and then start working on whatever it is I’m doing (currently I’m building a wall made out of flowers, leaves and moss) Around 3 in the afternoon I go home and work for another 2-3 hours editing photos or films, answering emails, doing interviews, … When I work on location it’s 50/50. Sometimes the location comes first when it’s a reference to something political or historical like for instance the former home of a woman who’s story I want to tell. Other times I just walk through the city and randomly chose places. Then there’s the times I look for a specific landscape to take a picture I’ve had in my head. These are the most challenging because it can take a long time to find the right place for one picture. Like right now I’m researching sand dunes all over Europe for this one picture I’ve had in my mind for years.
KALTBLUT: You started off as a model in front of the camera, then you studied Photography here in Berlin what pushed you to do so? Annique: I quit modelling at 24 and took a job as a photo assistant. I realized I had bought a camera from the first job I had booked as a model. I just started shooting everything I found beautiful and I also started taking self portraits again (I had done it regularly from the age of 11 but stopped some time around the age of 21) I decided I wanted to study photography and at that time I was living in Los Angeles but starting to feel homesick so I moved to Berlin and applied to schools there.
KALTBLUT: It’s all about control, now you have control, about your body and your work. You know the industry from both sides, how important is control for you and do you think you sometimes have to loose control, to get full control? Annique: I’m a control freak. Maybe starting modelling at 14 and never having control over the way you’re being portrayed contributed to that. Nowadays a certain lack of control is actually a huge part of my work flow. I never start out with a concrete plan but instead I start with a small thing like a bunch of flowers or the Boobhead, or a pink body suit or an ice cream sundae and then I start adding to that and adding and adding until it becomes chaotic, and somehow I find a certain symmetry or a sense in that chaos, and I enjoy being sort of a bystander to this set that I created, and I just document what happens with my camera.
KALTBLUT: Boobs, why boobs? And why do you think so many, specially male artists are obsessed with vaginas? Annique: I am fascinated by other’s people’s obsession with breasts and how they are simultaneously worshipped and deemed tabu. At least the female nipple is, because it’s associated with female sexuality and somehow we still shame women for their sexuality. I found those rubber boobs in a store years ago. They are sold as stress balls and I think they are just so absurd. Breasts are the most objectified part of women’s bodies and those balls are the perfect example for it.
KALTBLUT: Can you imagine doing something with penises one day? Annique: It’s been suggested to me but I don’t see a point in doing that.
KALTBLUT: You’re also giving workshops to build your own boob and and you’re planning to work with breast-cancer patients, to find a way to accept their bodies, a new way to explore their femininity and to identify themselves as women. Do you think we have the wrong beauty stereotypes of breasts and lost what femininity is, because we are too focused on the body? Annique: I think we lost touch with ourselves and our relationship with nature and with the universe. We are all connected, we are all valid and we are all beautiful. We have to start questioning the norms, beauty ideals and stereotypes that are constantly shoved down our throats. A good start to that is looking at how many people are actually left out of these norms and ideals.
KALTBLUT: A frequent motif (next to the boobs) are flowers and I think it’s correct to say you’re the queen of pastel and pink! Where does this come from? Annique: I’m very much into monochromatic sceneries and since the boobs I work with are pink I put them in similar color settings. That’s how my love for pink and pastel started. I’m also from a generation where pink wasn’t yet everywhere for girls. Not a lot of my toys or clothes were pink besides Barbie stuff so it was special to have pink stuff.
KALTBLUT: You did this exhibition where you displayed a diary, with a collection of stories of young girls from around the world, can you tell me more about the girls and what did you learn about yourself and for your life as a mom? Annique: I made this interactive installation. It was a teenage girl’s bedroom and the centre piece was a diary in which I had collected stories from cis girls, trans girls and gender fluid people talking about their experiences growing up in a male dominated world. I asked them to share stories of any time they felt pressure to conform to society, or to peer pressure or to pressure from parents or partners, or share stories about how they’ve experienced that there’s a different set of rules and expectations for girls than there is for boys. What came out of that was an overwhelming collection of heart breaking experiences. It solidified in me the believe that we all need to actively work on dismantling rape culture, toxic masculinity and misogyny. As a mother I’ve become even more motivated to be politically active because I want my child to live in a better world.
KALTBLUT: Is there any other artist that inspired you currently? Annique: I’m a big fan of Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas. For me seeing their work was a huge catalyst to break down my own inhibitions on how I express myself.
KALTBLUT: The art world is a male dominated place, what was the “biggest bullshit” that you had to face, because not only you are a female artist, but you also own your own body and sexuality, without using sex as a theme for your work? Annique: For me the biggest bullshit is every time some curator or gallerists tells me they cannot show my work because it’s „too vulgar“ or „too provocative“ I don’t even understand how my work is vulgar. I don’t exploit the female body, I don’t make pornography. Yet there are countless male artists who do both of those things. Who appropriate our bodies and it’s completely acceptable for them to do so.
KALTBLUT: How important is feminism for your work and your daily life? Annique: Feminism is a human rights issue. I cannot turn my back on it ever.
KALTBLUT: Can you tell us about what your working on and what are your plans for the future? Annique: Currently I am building a wall in reference to the rise fascism. It will be mobile and instead of dividing people it’s meant to bring people together. That’s all I’m going to give away for now.
If you want to meet contemporary artist locally and immerse yourself in the Berlin art scene, go and book a studio visit at coGallerie. You will receive your personal introduction to their work and you will have the opportunity to ask and touch everything and of course you can directly buy their art and maybe they force you to have mimosas!