Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Exclusive interview with german artist Anke Feuchtenberger

1. You were born on the ancient DDR. Was it difficult at the time when Germany was divided (and with all its politics problems) to conclude your studies at Fine Arts?

No, it was not so difficult , as it is now for the students.
Now they get no support, stipendia and so on, they have to work for earn their life.
Of course they don`t have those strong political restrictions that existed at time.
And for sure that those restrictions were hard. You couldn't be sure that you will get your diploma if you were known as someone "subversive", which could start of something very little; like : winning a competition in a western country or fighting for ecological reasons. And you couldn`t see the contemporary art in the western world, no books, no exhibitions....But  to study in general, it was not more difficult than it's today.

2. I remember reading " La petite dame (drawings), avec Katrin de Vries (script), éd. l'association, coll. « Patte de Mouche » on 1996". At the time this work of yours stuck on my mind as something different, visceral and quite unique with an excellent script by Katrin and amazing drawings by you, the story was focused on how to be a woman and all that surrounds the feminine aspect... (daydreaming among others). Were you pleased with this book and with it being translated to French as well?

My problem in general is, that if a work is out, published  and it was already a long time ago, when the french version was published, I`m not any more so interested in that work. Of course, I was very happy, when L'Association published the book. It was like a present for me, like it is always the experience to be published in other languages.
And the french version seems nice to me. But there were already new stories on the table, new "crisis", new stuff to deal with.
The translation seemed to be careful, I think. I don`t speak french, but I trust
a lot the translator Patricia Klobuszicki,who translated also other books into French.
3. I also remember reading "Die Hure H (Text:Katrin de Vries). Jochen Enterprises, Berlin 1996." that turned into a trilogy with "Die Hure H zieht ihre Bahnen (Text: Katrin de Vries). Edition Moderne, Zürich 2003" and "Die Hure H wirft den Handschuh (Text: Katrin de Vries). Reprodukt, Berlin 2007". These trilogy was translated into French by L'association . English and Danish (that I know of) and represented the view of women, more on their inside aspect and how they see the world with their complexity. 
 Do you think that your work in here with Katrin showed your readers (on a visual and literary aspect) the inner world of the women in general? 

I don`t know , what would be the inner world or outer world?
In a discussion last september in Rome, I was there together with Emmanuele Guibert. And people divided us in the sense:
Emmanuele is doing the realistic part, and I`m doing the "daydreaming"part.
I ask myself: who can decide, what is REALITY?
It`s a philosophical category to discuss and to research.
To draw and write is an ambivalent work: to tell something you experienced strong can mean: To tell something you can imaging and/or you have seen it by yourself. Katrin de Vries Text were done as Prose. they are very reduced and became through that abstract. when I first read them, I was imaginating strongly the space. This was my inner work, because the space in her text, was not described. Then I started to draw the space and the faces. I had to decide the time of the scenario, the " costumes"..... and this changed the stories totally.
You can read it as a metaphor. You can take it as a place I know, I was there, I have seen this.
I never could or wanted to say something about women in general.
I ( as a drawer) wanted to share experiences, or wanted to do them by drawing. Because I`m not sure what comes out of this drawings.
Mostly they change my plans, because the drawing is really anarchical to me.
Its not that I don`t have any plan. But how it works finally depends on the process.
For instant in the story of W The Whore in the Extinct land,
I knew that there I wanted to tell something about ALCHEMIA, about the process of changing material, life into death into organic black into white....
The story of Katrin de Vries ( with her words) was not at all telling this.
And I didn`t want to illustrate her text.
If this is the world of women...I don`t know. It depends on the person who read it. I am a woman, so what this is, I can only live it, not explain it.
Le Photograph by Emmanuele Guibert
 4. I also remember a book of your "Die Biographie der Frau Trockenthal". Jochen Enterprises, Berlin on 1998" was it influenced on the ancient polish movie posters. Were you making this work thinking on any particular polish artists?
Die Biographie der Frau Trockenthal
Die Biographie der Frau Trockenthal - Inside page

I started my career being a graphic designer. I did hundreds of posters at a certain time for theaters and with political reasons - women movement especially.
This was how I earned my life as a single parent. I didn`t know any comics, because in the DDR didn`t exist this culture. And, as a child I was growing up with polish, russian, hungarian, tschecoslovakian and german posters.
 I visited with my father the Poster Biennale at Warszaw, Poland, which was the most important Poster exhibition in Europe . There I saw great Poster art.
One Artist was a source of inspiritation on me: Franciszek Starowieyski ( I´m not sure if its written right), like others such as: Swierzy,
Tomaszewski, but also the german Pfüller and Brade.
I felt,at the end of the nineties, that there is less and less work for doing posters, and my interests were leading me more in the direction of comics, done as an author,so I decided to collect all my posters ( not all, but my favorite) and to do a book with these posters.
They were done for the street, and not to be seen anymore.
The reason why I invented a fake-biography of Frau Trockenthal, (that is the opposite of names: Dry Valley and Wet Mountain, which is my name )
was because the publishing house JOCHEN ENTERPRISES was a comic-publisher, and I thought, that they would publish only comics , not posters....
Franciszek Starowieyski - Polish poster

Volker Pfüller

Henryk Tomaszewski - movie poster
5.  "Das Haus" - published by Reprodukt on 2001" is one of my favourite books from you. (loved the design of the book). It was a bit dreamy and poetic on my opinion. What were you trying to show us readers with it?

Das Haus - Cover

These strips were done as a job for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung/ Berlin Pages, as a weekly strip.
At the time I didn't lived anymore in my home town Berlin.
So I decided to work with the nostalgia that I had for my hometown.
I tried to create a house of memories, using the metaphor of the body; like: every part of the body is a key, which opens a place in Berlin, where I try to draw different memories or personal experiences connected with the space on Berlin city.
Das Haus - inside page
 6. You had exhibitions all over the world (and in Portugal as well). What was the reaction from the public to them?
Poster - Italian Exhibition
 Very different. Ambivalent, but always strong: Love and hate.....
7. Being a fine arts person, you showed that comic books could be real art. Do you think that comics are really an art form like any other?

I don't think so much about art or not art. If I think on my beloved children books, illustrated by Jiri Trnka, they formed my style, my conciousness--
 How can I say, that this isn't art, because these are "only" children books? the same for the work of Rudolphe Toepffer, which I read , when I was 5 years old. .
For me it was a deeply changing experience, and I remember like today these images and what I saw and what I felt, more as an inner world, than I could exactly explain you the pictures. So, if it's art or not, this will be decided by someone else. I'm in the process of searching.
Jiri Trnka book

Jiri Trnka - Animation - "The hand"

Rodolphe Topffer

8. I was at the exhibition on 2003 at Lisbon with your works, Martin Tom Dieck and Ulf K. (and it was really amazing and you were really nice in person, like Ulf and Martin). What's your opinion of Portugal and portuguese people? (I remember you being here also last year on 2012 at Guimarães (that I couldn't make it).

Anke Feuchtenberger

Martin Tom Dieck - Salut Deleuze
Martin Tom Dieck - Der Unschuldige Passagier

Martin Tom Dieck - Inside page

Ulf K - Book cover

Ulf K. - Inside page

I loved the time at Guimarães a lot, because it was one of the rare times, that I could stay in a beautiful interesting place and draw there.
I hate to be a tourist. I don`t know what to do, hang around and smile.
In Guimarães, I had the time, place and possibility to search something about the place , to learn something about the people and the city....
The people in Guimarães were very nice and generous.

9.   Your work appeared on lots of anthologies in  Dänemark, Deutschland, Finnland, France, Israel, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland and USA. Did you made original short stories for them or were they ancient stories by you?

It depended on the subject.  The israelian artistgroup ACTUS TRAGICUS
asked me several times to participate with a certain subject.
Like : HAPPY END or DEAD HERRING. Also other anthologies asked for
 a certain subject and so I did a story extra for that. As long as I'm interested in developing something new, I can work also without money. Sometimes, they only wanted to reprint something. In general it is difficult to participate always with new stories, because mostly this is not paid. Sometimes people do not know, that comic artists like other artists are working without getting paid for their job-which is not a HOBBY!
Happy End - Actus Tragicus
Rosetta Anthology
Inside page of Rosetta Anthology
 10. You also had a fine arts catalog published on China on 2005 "Anke Feuchtenberger. Human Fine Arts Publishing House, Shen Zhen". How did the chinese responded to your works, being you an european with a total different culture?
Some time ago, after my book was published in China, I got some e-mails from young chinese artists and I connected them with Sascha HommerSascha was the founder of ORANG, the comic anthology. There he published also these young chinese artists. So there was already an intensive contact, when we in October of last year, I've been in China with a big exhibition in the Art Museum of Nanjing, together with Sascha Hommer and Jul Gordon , who both have been my students, and both are now great artists.
Sascha Hommer - Orang
It was very touching ( quasi embarrassing) for me, that people still spoke about this book to me in China.
The chinese young artists I met, were very interested and open to our 
(german) comic culture and we the other way around.It was also a personal meeting, a real exchange, apart from the official relationships and we still try to work somehow together. But I think it is difficult to speak about something in general , because like all over the world , we met persons, and each is different.
 Since my childhood I was inspired by chinese ancient art. I didn't know, that it was another culture, when I was little. It has been one of the first deep visual influences in my life. 
Still today my comic story " Hero und Leander" is very inspired by chinese
narrative art. So my trip was also a bit like going home , even if everything overthere was so exotic for me.
"Hero und Leander" cover
"Hero und Leander" - Inside page
 11. You teach arts at Hamburg, right? Do you teach your students that comic books could and should be more important on arts? (I asked you this, since most people consider comic books an inferior art form)
I'm teaching drawing in Hamburg. I changed it into a more narrative direction. For me it is important , that young artists are totally involved in what they are doing. That they do not think too much in the reception, if is it art or not. First it is important, that you understand, that the choice of an artistic life means a hard work to do and a way of life in general. there is no holiday.....As I take serious any artistic expression (music, pictures,film and so on) of people who are really into their own research and expression, I would only discuss about the intensity and authenticity of their expression
( artwork) and not , if its comic or drawing or storytelling or animation film....
12. What your favorite comic book authors and books?

When I was very young: Rodolphe Toepffer, when I was starting to draw:
Marc Beyer, Loustal and Mattotti , later on: Tsuge, Daniel Clowes, Gipi.
Also some of my students or ex-students like Birgit Weyhe and Jul Gordon ( I published them) or Marij Pol and Sascha Hommer.
Mark Beyer - Amy and Jordan

Mark Beyer - Inside page


Loustal - 01

Loustal - 02

Daniel Clowes - Eightball
 13. What are your favourite artists and movies directors?

Favourite artists: I always discover new. For instant last november at Vienna, I was searching the paintimgs of Velasquez, who I adore, but instead I discovered Tizian, as if I saw it for the first time. I adore Matthew Barney and Louise Bourgeois
 Films : My boyfriend and me are maniacs for film noir (english and american) of the 40ies, 50ies and 60ies and in music I'll love for ever ( apart from every new music which is always nice to find)
"Die Winterreise" from Schubert and " Das Lied von der Erde" Gustav Mahler.
Matthew Barney

Louise Bourgeois
" Das Lied von der Erde" Gustav Mahler
14. Do you feel that the book (as we know it) is becoming more an object and less a book with IPAD'S and EBOOK's or  do you think that the feeling of having a book on our hands can't be replaced?  

Yes, I think it can't be replaced for people like me, who were growing up with this experience and which is already grandmother. I can't speak for others in the future. (like my son and grandson)