Anaïs Marion Poitiers, France
The Baghdadbahn is a german-made railway that connected Berlin to the iraqi capital. Baghdad was a delightful destination for the passagers of the Orient Express in the 30’s. They could cross the Bosphorus in Istanbul to catch the Taurus express and visit famous archeological sites in Mesopotamia. No tourist would choose Iraq any more and economical imperialism changed his face. I decided to follow the tracks of this forgotten story until the syrian border, the farthest point I could reach in 2018.
French artist based in Poitiers, I graduated in Fine Arts in 2017. I would rather say that I am using photography as a collector. Like an investigator collecting clues. Monuments, museums, memory places and tourism: my work focuses on those places and objets that tell us multiple stories about our national narratives. It questions the cultural and political construction of the territory.
Anaïs Marion was chosen by photographer Charlie Jouvet
Laatikkomo’s interview with Anaïs Marion October 8th, 2018.
L : Where are you from? What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places have influenced you?
AM: I’m born and I grew up in Metz (France) in Alsace-Moselle, this territory that has been German twice through the last centuries. I spent few months in Romania, in Lebanon and in Blakans, and those places had left a strong impress on the way I’m working. But I probably understood how strongly my native place influenced me a long time after I left.
L: What is your first memory of photography/film?
AM: My first contact with photography was family albums I guess, like many people. But there is one memory among others that I always remember when I think of a « first » photograph: I had the chance to meet my grand grand mother when I’m born. I was 4 months old when she died. The family legend says that someone took a picture of me sitting on her knees the only very moment I saw her. Everybody in my family believe the picture has been taken and printed, but no one could say who took it, how it was like and where it is now. I personally think that picture never really existed…
L: Your work focuses on ideas or concepts and which are expanded into multifaceted installations and/or bound in books. Is photography your starting point, or how do you weave together the different physical aspects of your work?
AM: I don’t consider myself as a photographer, but I mainly use photography in my production process: as a way to reproduce, to record, to document or to show. Photography can have many status for me, and it is not associated with the camera and the gesture to take a picture. I say I use, because I also work with pictures I find, archival materiel or screenshoots for exemple. In some of my recent works, I also got interested in alternative photographic processes, which I use not only to print photographs. The starting point is a thinking about production of images today, but I always use photography at some point in my works.
L: Your work deals with heavy subjects and although violence is not visible, the results, including death and destruction or neglect, are still present. Do you have a special way of working with these subjects that prevents you from becoming overwhelmed?
AM: I first didn’t feel legitimate to talk about those subjects when I started. Because of my external point of view, because I’ve never been through a conflict situation, because I traveled in other countries to work on events I wasn’t familiar with and for many others reasons, I felt it was too big for me. Step by step, I found out that I had the right to testify of realities I witnessed. I choose to tell the stories the way I personally encounter them and as a method, I write in first person.
L: I noticed from your CV, that your background includes education in journalism. What did you consciously take from your studies in journalism that currently influences you in your art?
AM: Writing. I can’t work without writing. Sometimes it is just a step for me to go further, sometimes only the writing is remaining in my work. Books making is thus very important in my practice. But more unconsciously, I think I’ve learnt to analyse and to doubt when I studied journalism. So I always want to see, meaning, to go to the field to get my own vision of what I’m talking about. I don’t want my work being enclosed in the past, I want to question the influence of this past today. But I created my own way to investigate later, in art school, because I gave up too early my journalism studies!
L: Patrimony, colonialism, and war which are often referred to as male achievements are visible in your work. Are you interested in commenting on these institutions through your work?
AM: I got interested in post-wars scars and memory battles when I started studying art. Teachers often asked: « why does a young woman like you work on this topic today? » They usually said « woman » unconsciously, but they said it. They were looking for some reasons, like a family story, to explain my intentions. But there is no such traumatic past in my personal history. War and history, which are too often considered as the same topic, are associated with power and politic, so with a men world. Even in such an open-minded place like an art school. I don’t want to focus on that through my work even if I underline sometimes words I’ve been told because I’m a woman or details about gender considerations in war museums for exemple. I just keep doing it.
L: The subject matter of your projects looks at human self-destruction from an exterior, and almost archaeological, point of view. Is there one event, over all the others, that instigated your investigation of war and power?
AM: I pay a lot of attention to news and media images. How the events are related, from which point of view and to who. There is one event: 28 of June, 1914. Assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. I had to memorise this date among others in the timeline like every kid at school, but I didn’t know where was Sarajevo, and why the First World War started there. That wasn’t told in the History lessons and I wondered why. I am born in 1992, and I could not remember but understand that another war happened, too recent to be related. Then I remember Kosovo on the TV screen, September 11th and Irak. But Sarajevo was a gray zone to me until I eventually went there in 2015.
L: Could you list five or more words related to the work you are showing in Laatikkomo?
AM: Desert, excavation, journey, quest, destruction
Thank you so much Anaïs!!