Eleven institutions from eleven European countries cooperate as part of the European Photography Platform’s Futures project in order to discover emerging talents and to introduce them on an international level, especially to the European art market. As a platform partner, the Capa Center selected five young authors during Budapest Portfolio Review 2019 who joined Unseen Amsterdam this September. Get to know the Futures talents of Capa Center!
Anna Ádám (1983) is a visual- and performance artist, costume designer, and makeup artist. She graduated at ENSAPC Art School in France in 2016, and also studied styling (2010) and makeup (2018). In 2014 in Berlin, she co-founded Gray Box, which is both a collective and a platform at the intersection of visual arts, performance art, and fashion. Since 2017 in the frame of her personal practice, Anna Ádám creates hybrid spaces where spectacle and exhibition merge: she “curates theater” and “choreographs exhibitions”. She conceptualizes and uses the exhibition space as a theatre and the theater as an exhibition space: the plinth as a stage, the installation as setting, the visitor as a spectator, and vice versa. Her multidisciplinary and always site-specific projects – including photography, drawing, installation, clothing, performances, and choreographed works – echo the broader socio-political context from a feminist and queer perspective, and challenge the body as both a historically disciplined, shaped archive and a living public/private site, where power is constantly contested and negotiated. As a photographer, by combining both personal and anonymous photos with different technics (collage, drawing, painting, sewing, embroidery…), she examines the ways vernacular photography influences, shapes, and challenges memory, individual and collective identities, personal and historical narratives, the social fabric, issues of authenticity, ownership, privacy and public life. Her embroidered photographs, photo-objects, and photo-based clothings explore the performative, choreographic, and sculptural potential of photography. Between 2013-2015 Anna Ádám worked as performance artist in commissioned works (Palais de Tokyo, Musée Georges Pompidou). Since 2014 she regularly presents her projects in both exhibition spaces and theaters (Museum of Modern Art Yerevan, National Museum of Immigration History Paris, Theater MU Budapest, Théâtre de la Maison d’Europe et d’Orient, Salon de Montrouge, Galérie YGREC, Dorothy’s Gallery), and holds workshops in universities and galleries across Europe (Sweden, Hungary, Serbia, France, Armenia). Since October 2019 she teaches about the connection between theatre and fine art at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and at the Université d’Artois in France.
When and how did you first get acquainted with photography? When and how did it become important for you?
I don’t consider myself to be a photographer, possibly rather a mixer creating various interartistic cocktails in the theater or in the exhibition space, mixing up different media. Thus, photography has never become more important for me than any other arts form; it is just one of those tools that I use, mostly combined with other media: drawing and photography, or textiles and photography, for example. Of course, it is important, because it is essential – I think today every artist uses the photograph in one form or another, even if only for documentation, or “taking notes.” Just like me.
How do you see your relationship to photography? How do you use this medium?
My relationship with the photograph is rather ordinary. I could even say that as I don’t usually take a picture of my dinner or pose with my friends, I use it less than any Z-generation selfie queen. I usually make “photograph-based” works, zines, collages, drawings (Album of Lost Lovers, 2019), objects, installations (No hook ups, only serious, 2018) from found or self-created photographs. I use photography in my performances as part of the set or applied to the costumes (sorry not sorry, 2018 and Mapping Memories, 2014); my performances are sometimes completed with a photo series (My Genesis Story, 2018); and seldom, but it does happen that an independent photo series is created (UTOPIA/DYSTOPIA, 2017). I have a Nikon FM2, which I bought back in university; that is when I started taking pictures, exclusively on film. When I work, I am very slow and conscious, I usually take only one shot of one setting, and then it either works out or not. If not, that is okay too.
Generally, which are the most important questions for you, and how do you reflect on these in your works?
In the past 4–5 years, I explored gender roles, social norms, and moral traditions from a feminist and queer perspective. Intimacy, identity and sexuality played an important role in my work. I focused on human relationships and the various relationship qualities, trying to contextualize and interpret the questions of love, attachment, loneliness and dating, in a social and political context. I think I have closed down this period with the sorry not sorry (2018) performance, as although this play still includes the issue of normativity and acceptance, it is not the main subject any more, only a segment of the research topic.
What do you think about the situation and the future of photography?
I don’t really know much about this, I don’t know what to answer… But I suppose that in Hungary the situation is about the same as with any other art form: there are fantastic creators, great initiatives, and exciting projects, only – due to the lack of resources – many of these are never realized, or not in the way they were intended to be. But I do hope I am wrong!
What are you working on, and what are your short-term plans?
Although I think I am over the gender roles, conventionalities, and stereotypes, I have not entirely receded from social and political questions. In my next performance, I will explore the socio-psychological consequences of climate change, that is, the impact of the environment on people and human relationships, on a micro and mezzo level. The play takes off from my photo series UTOPIA/DYSTOPIA (2017), and although I’m not really sure yet, in what form, photography will definitely be an integral part of the performance. It will be in cooperation with a French climate research center; we are starting the rehearsal process in January, and I’m planning the première for October 2020.
Selection from Anna Ádám’s picture