Anna Carey Interview - The Hopper Prize

Anna Carey

Anna Carey discusses involuntary memory & shifting place, conflating imagination & various spaces into one space, & developing the idea of architecture & fantasy.

How did you get into making art?

Like most kids I was always creative, however it wasn’t until high school (or what is called Junior high in America) that I realized that it was the only thing that I was interested in and I was also naturally good at creating. It was the only thing that captured my attention span, so I pursued as many art subjects as I could. I went to university to do a visual arts degree to find out what creative field I wanted to be in and dabbled in subjects like fine art, art theory and three dimensional design. However, I landed with fine art as I really starting to find my research interests or what some may call ‘voice’. There were also people ‘encouraging’ me to follow through with fine art and reflecting back I think it is great if you can be surrounded by vision holders.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on a series titled ‘ Madame Mystery’ which is a series of photographs based on fictive psychic shop fronts. The work combines various Los Angeles psychic shops with imagination. By conflating imagination and various spaces into one space, I aim to create a blurred everyday experience similar to the way we slip into a state of escapism and daydreams in-between the more mundane experiences around the home. The idea of escapism is further heightened by inserting my own real life phone number into the psychic signage. This invites viewers into a fantasy world and creates a sense of play and connection in a time when connection has been hazy.

By conflating imagination and various spaces into one space, I aim to create a blurred everyday experience similar to the way we slip into a state of escapism and daydreams in-between the more mundane experiences around the home.

Anna Carey

What inspired you to get started on this body of work?

The idea for the work started while in lockdown in LA, I had planned to make work about global space worldwide however since travel was restricted the work is instead based on psychic shops in Los Angeles where I am predominately based. To be honest the idea just came to me when seeing a psychic shop in LA, I just had a gut feeling and knew that it was the next step for my work as it is another way to explore and develop the idea of architecture and fantasy. I often talk about my process and work being like a feeling of Déjà vu and it was one of those moments. I was also watching also of supernatural movies in lockdown, so material mysticism was present in my conscious.

Do you work on distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?

My practice is always concerned with broad theme, however I work on distinct projects to flesh out my ideas and discover new insights. For instance, my work is concerned with involuntary memory and shifting place through connected global cultures. However, I have explored these ideas in multiple ways. For instance, the series ‘Stardust’ depicted various stardust motels across the world to show a global style of architecture and style. However, through that I found that most of the places had changed overtime, so I used google maps to revisit them so I could create ‘then and now’ versions. This highlighted how the landscape and motel signage changed overtime through technology like google maps. However, a totally different approach would be a recent series ‘Faraway’ which combined places from America, Australia and Europe to create a global dream space similar to the way motel owners or home owner create a space that evoke a place of some where else. Presenting all these familiar fluid spaces aims for people to identify their own place in the world.

What’s a typical day like in your studio?

That changes all the time depending on where I am at in the process. I could be researching places on google maps, jotting down ideas in my diary, researching and buying materials such as lights and wire for neon signs, model making, photographing the model, or editing photographs. In saying that though the most common day would be working on model making as it is so meticulous and takes a lot of time.

Who are your favorite artists?

There are so many established and emerging, However I think I will go for the more established artists who have contributed to ideas that my work owes debt to such as Deadpan photographers like Ed Ruscha and Stephen Shore as well as constructed/staged photographers such as Tracey Moffat, Tomas Demand and James Casebere. Rachel Whiteread is my favorite artist for work about memory and place, I think her work ‘House’ was a masterpiece. I also love Francis Alys for is poetic urban observations and the fact that he makes work by walking like a modern day flaneur as walking and observing the urban environment is a big component to my work.

Where do you go to discover new artists?

I guess usually just through exhibitions or looking at the finalist artists in completions land grants just like this. I also find interesting artists through other artist friends. I think the best way to find out about other artists is by asking interesting people what they are into.

Anna Carey is an artist based in Los Angeles who was recently shortlisted for The Hopper Prize. To learn more about the artist:

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