Volume I – Anna McCarthy & Monika Bayer-Wermuth
Volume I – Anna McCarthy & Monika Bayer-Wermuth

Volume I – Anna McCarthy & Monika Bayer-Wermuth

Sperling

Volume V – Anna Vogel & Maria Müller-Schareck

Volume V – Anna Vogel & Maria Müller-Schareck

November 2021

Anna Vogel lives in the Austrian mountains, in Tyrol, I live in the lowlands of the Rhine, in Düsseldorf. One, therefore, in the midst of the peace and majesty of the Alps, the other in a big city characterized by densification, traffic, and hecticness. The different speed that dominates our lives is one of the central themes in Anna Vogel’s work. Based on photography, she challenges its documentary potential by productively disrupting the surface of the image, literally overlaying and enriching it. Our conversation, conducted in the midst of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, was possible thanks to digital communication; fast, but an inadequate substitute for face-to-face encounters.

Maria Müller-Schareck

Maria Müller-Schareck

One of your early series – created around 2011 – you call Mountains.
One could describe them like this: Strange formations intrude into photographic images of mountains, nondistinctive fields narrow the view of a mountain lake, colored mist backdrops a parachutist who has just landed, loop-like shapes crisscrossed with scratches ‘hover’ next to gliders at a light altitude.

Bergbahn I,, 2011, Inkjet print, varnish, scratched, 21 × 29,5 cm

Bergbahn I, 2011, Inkjet print, varnish, scratched, 21 × 29,5 cm

Untitled, 2011, Inkjet print, varnish, 19 × 21,5 cm

Untitled, 2011, Inkjet print, varnish, 19 × 21,5 cm

Untitled, 2012, Inkjet print, varnish, 24,7 × 31 cm

Untitled, 2012, Inkjet print, varnish, 24,7 × 31 cm

Untitled, 2012, Inkjet print, copy, 24 × 34 cm

Untitled, 2012, Inkjet print, copy, 24 × 34 cm

From birds and sheep,, 2012, Inkjet print, acrylic, scratched, 21,8 × 30,5 cm

From birds and sheep, 2012, Inkjet print, acrylic, scratched, 21,8 × 30,5 cm

You seem to be working against photography’s muted representation of a frame of the world when you use varnish and pointed objects to disturb the surface of the photographic paper and partially erase the image. Ten years later, you did the series Electric Mountains. The image is formed from color gradients and the vertically placed fine lines that a seismograph could have left behind.

What were the essential steps on the way from the Mountains to the Electric Mountains?

You seem to be working against photography’s muted representation of a frame of the world when you use varnish and pointed objects to disturb the surface of the photographic paper and partially erase the image.
Anna Vogel

I made Mountains while I was still at the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf, after I had worked for several months on a mountain hut in the Alps. I had spent a very liberated time there far away from civilization, almost above the clouds. But I had so much work to do that I didn’t find the time to photograph at all.

Back in Düsseldorf, I had plenty of images and impressions in my head and realized that I needed to turn them into something, but of course I didn’t have any picture material of my own. Therefore, I started to look for images online, making them quasi substitutes for my memories. I noticed how many small details were already fading. So that’s how the idea of collages was born.

Using found images, I put my memories together fragmentarily; they, in turn, became less individual and gained the form of collective memories.

I created somehow typical landscapes, which each owned a moment of ‘fault’, however, through intervention with cutter knife, ink pen or spray paint. The goal was to create a kind of noise, perhaps a kind of energetic connection to certain places of ‘Sehnsucht’ that people carry with them in their heads. The manual interventions in these works were still very minimal and carefully implanted.

Eight years later, I actually followed my longing to live more secludedly and moved to the Austrian Alps.

Electric Mountains was the first series I created there. Now I was living literally in the middle of my paintings, surrounded by great nature, but also confronted with the encroachment of nature through aggressive building development, destruction, tourism, traffic, and so on. This discrepancy between absolute silence and the noise, between connectedness to and alienation from civilization, I try to process in the series.

Because I have to travel professionally again and again to the most diverse metropolises, I noticed over time the different speed people live by and move through the world. Transforming myself from the elements of the mountains to those of the city and vice versa is not easy, but a very electrifying process every time. And this vibration, this movement has now flown into my work.

Therefore, I started to look for images online, making them quasi substitutes for my memories.
Electric Mountains I,, 2019, Pigment print, scratched, in custom frame, artglas, 80 × 60 cm

Electric Mountains I, 2019, Pigment print, scratched, in custom frame, artglas, 80 × 60 cm

Electric Mountains V,, 2019, Lacquer on pigment print, scratched, framed in polished chrome, artglass, 60 × 45 cm

Electric Mountains V, 2019, Lacquer on pigment print, scratched, framed in polished chrome, artglass, 60 × 45 cm

Electric Mountains XV & XVI,, 2020, Lacquer on pigment print, scratched, frame finished in dusty gray, each 160 × 120 cm

Electric Mountains XV & XVI, 2020, Lacquer on pigment print, scratched, frame finished in dusty gray, each 160 × 120 cm

Electric Mountains IV,, 2019, Pigment print, scratched, framed in polished chrome, artglass, 60 × 45 cm

Electric Mountains IV, 2019, Pigment print, scratched, framed in polished chrome, artglass, 60 × 45 cm

Electric Mountains IV, [detail], 2019, Pigment print, scratched, framed in polished chrome, artglass, 60 × 45 cm

Electric Mountains IV [detail], 2019, Pigment print, scratched, framed in polished chrome, artglass, 60 × 45 cm

Maria Müller-Schareck

The transposition of this movement into images is, I imagine, a highly concentrated, an extremely slow and precise process, in which there is little room for spontaneity. You draw line after line across the width of the image carrier or across a section of the work. The lines are never straight, but show ‘swings’, appear like the product of a seismograph, which registers the vibrations of the ground or other seismic waves.

Can such a work be prepared? What triggers the vibration to which your hand responds when it draws the lines? Is it the content of the picture, a detail in it, or are there entirely different reasons?

And where is the tipping point in such a ‘productive image disturbance’, where the initial image, the bridge to reality, would dissolve if further lines were added?

What triggers the vibration to which your hand responds when it draws the lines?
Anna Vogel

The lines are based on self-made stencils, irregular rulers, which I move vertically through the whole image carrier or the chosen section while making diagonal lines with a cutter, a pen or something else. Thus I draw millimeter by millimeter over the surface of the picture, sensing it, which is a very haptic experience. As unspontaneous as this limitation may sound, this way of working leaves so much freedom in detail.

How far apart can the lines be without losing their connection and tension with the picture? How far can I move the stencil vertically to achieve a sense of disturbance or disruption?
These decisions all happen spontaneously and also intuitively in the working process. They are less dependent on the image motif than on the intention of transmitting a certain frequency from the image to the viewer. Depending on the picture, these vibrations can be everything, from meditative to electric.

From experience I would say that this transmission is no longer given if the frequencies are arranged too chaotically or are too dense. Only minimal intervention of the system of order leads to interest and irritation.

Departure tomorrow,, Sperling 2021, installation view, photo: Sebastian Kissel
,Electric Mountains XVIII,, 2020, Lacquer on pigment print, scratched, frame finished in dusty gray, 160 × 120 cm
,Electric Mountains XXVI,, 2021, Lacquer on pigment print, scratched, frame finished in dusty gray, 80 × 60 cm

Departure tomorrow, Sperling 2021, installation view, photo: Sebastian Kissel
Electric Mountains XVIII, 2020, Lacquer on pigment print, scratched, frame finished in dusty gray, 160 × 120 cm
Electric Mountains XXVI, 2021, Lacquer on pigment print, scratched, frame finished in dusty gray, 80 × 60 cm

Departure tomorrow,, Sperling 2021, installation view, photo: Sebastian Kissel

Departure tomorrow, Sperling 2021, installation view, photo: Sebastian Kissel

Maria Müller-Schareck

You’ve spoken of the discrepancy of speed, between mountain world and metropolis, which you capture in the lines that crisscross the photographs.

Have you ever tried to do this the other way around, that is, working with photographs of urban scenes that transport the hectic, speed and noise?

Anna Vogel

Yes, I made a series of smaller works at the end of my studies with Andreas Gursky in Düsseldorf, in 2011.

Me and mirrors,, 2011, Pigment print, 45 × 60 cm

Me and mirrors, 2011, Pigment print, 45 × 60 cm

Untitled, 2010, Pigment print, 30 × 24 cm

Untitled, 2010, Pigment print, 30 × 24 cm

Untitled, 2010, Pigment print, 30 × 24 cm

Untitled, 2010, Pigment print, 30 × 24 cm

Untitled, 2010, Pigment print, 24 × 30 cm

Untitled, 2010, Pigment print, 24 × 30 cm

Untitled, 2010, Pigment Print, 30 × 24 cm

Untitled, 2010, Pigment Print, 30 × 24 cm

The pictures were all made in Budapest and I am the figure in most of the images. These were the first attempts to depict connections of energy between me and my environment in an abstracted way. Here, of course, a lot of representational things are still recognizable, people, buildings, details of objects. And at that time it was not so much about speed, but rather about a careful scanning of the world in all directions and the question of how this in turn is reflected in oneself.

The idea of processing urban motifs in a similar way to the Electric Mountains, however, has so far been quite unappealing to me. Rather, I would then have to incorporate a slowing down, i.e. a braking of the speed, as a compensation, so to speak, in order to restore the balance.

And at that time it was not so much about speed, but rather about a careful scanning of the world in all directions and the question of how this in turn is reflected in oneself.
Maria Müller-Schareck

In these early works from 2010/11, your working material were photographs taken in the city. The superimposed image disturbance is reminiscent of the game ‘battleships’, a grid of small circles, some whitewashed, some marked with the little cross.

What started the leap from this form of superimposition to the various other techniques, such as the smoke or the play with positive/negative?

Anna Vogel

The white crosses you see on the older works stand for ‘being offline’ in different messenger programs like Skype. A green symbol, on the other hand, usually stands for ‘being online’. In a metaphorical sense, this means being ‘in touch’ with people or not. The places that are completely whitened then deliberately interrupt any possibility of communication, not only digital.

The structure is of course rather radical, already from the basic idea, yes or no, it allows no nuances and little leeway in the form. It is simply quite rigid.

Therefore, in the further development of the works, I looked for ways to intervene in the photographs without holding on to patterns that were too riged.

For me, the drawn lines oscillate between order and dynamism, chaos. For example, a veil of spray paint obscures information but has blurred edges. A graphic ink drawing adds information to the photograph, complements the form.

For me, the drawn lines oscillate between order and dynamism, chaos.
Installation view, curated by Andreas Gursky, Sprüth Magers Berlin, 2016
,Translator III,, 2016, Pigment print, ink, 160 × 120 cm
,Tinted Transformer III,, 2016, Pigment print, 60 × 45 cm

Installation view, curated by Andreas Gursky, Sprüth Magers Berlin, 2016
Translator III, 2016, Pigment print, ink, 160 × 120 cm
Tinted Transformer III, 2016, Pigment print, 60 × 45 cm

From the series: ,New Cities,, Pigment print, ink, 160 × 120 cm, Installation view: ,Next generations,, Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, 2019.

From the series: New Cities, Pigment print, ink, 160 × 120 cm, Installation view: Next generations, Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, 2019.

What started the leap from this form of superimposition to the various other techniques, such as the smoke or the play with positive/negative?
First Plants,, 2018, Pigment print, ink, scratched, 40 × 30 cm

First Plants, 2018, Pigment print, ink, scratched, 40 × 30 cm

High above the gardens,, 2017, Ink on pigment print 28 × 24 cm

High above the gardens, 2017, Ink on pigment print 28 × 24 cm

Firemen,, 2016, Pigment print, varnish, 40 × 30 cm

Firemen, 2016, Pigment print, varnish, 40 × 30 cm

Orange,, 2016, Pigment print, ink, varnish, 40 × 30 cm

Orange, 2016, Pigment print, ink, varnish, 40 × 30 cm

Maria Müller-Schareck

I would like to talk about the motifs that interest you: They span from prehistoric times (Trilobites) to antiquity (Temples & Cities), from urban development to pristine landscapes and sublime animals (Smiling Barn Owls). Can you describe when and why certain motifs captivate you?

Can you describe when and why certain motifs captivate you?
Anna Vogel

I am usually captivated by a detail of a series that I work on over a longer period of time. This can be a small part of a large image that I would like to highlight or develop further. I am interested in topics that are rather timeless. Starting from the fact that man spends only a very short time on this planet, I probe my way earth-historically backwards and at the same time expand into the future.

The Trilobites interest me as they are one of the first witnesses of life on earth. They have an almost futuristic appearance and elegance. Adding a few set of ink lines tranports them already into a new age, in which humans try to move further out into space maybe. At the same time, they raise the question of whether life itself does not originate from it.

Two Trilobites III + I,, 2016, Pigment prints, ink, framed in copper, 30 × 42 cm

Two Trilobites III + I, 2016, Pigment prints, ink, framed in copper, 30 × 42 cm

Two Trilobites III ,[detail], 2016, Pigment prints, ink, framed in copper, 30 × 42 cm

Two Trilobites III [detail], 2016, Pigment prints, ink, framed in copper, 30 × 42 cm

I am usually captivated by a detail of a series that I work on over a longer period of time.

The Temples move along a shorter timeline of human culture and mysticism.

Ruins left over from antiquity, decaying early symbols of religion and power, they are nevertheless a constant in all cultures through their reference to the perpetual search for transcendence. In what kind of architectural form is only secondary for me, temples decay like other buildings and therefore dissolve in my works as well.

Temples IX,, 2018, Lacquer on pigment print, scratched, 40 × 30 cm

Temples IX, 2018, Lacquer on pigment print, scratched, 40 × 30 cm

Temple V,, 2018, Pigment print, varnish, scratched, 60 × 80 cm

Temple V, 2018, Pigment print, varnish, scratched, 60 × 80 cm

Temple XI, , Pigment print, varnish, scratched, 80 × 60 cm, 2018

Temple XI , Pigment print, varnish, scratched, 80 × 60 cm, 2018

[...] decaying early symbols of religion and power, they are nevertheless a constant in all cultures through their reference to the perpetual search for transcendence.

I find the owls in the Smiling Barn Owls just as interesting in terms of cultural history. In Europe they stood for knowledge on the one hand, but on the other hand they were also outlawed as bringers of bad luck or messengers of death. They were sometimes hunted until they were almost extinct. In Native American culture, on the other hand, they were sacred, standing for wisdom and protective companionship after death. In my work I try to unite different global interpretations and aspects around these animals.

Smiling Barn Owl VI,, 2013, Pigment print, lacquer, framed, artglass
23 × 34 cm, edition of 10

Smiling Barn Owl VI, 2013, Pigment print, lacquer, framed, artglass
23 × 34 cm, edition of 10


,Smiling Barn Owl I,, 2013, Pigment prints, 120 × 80 cm


Smiling Barn Owl I, 2013, Pigment prints, 120 × 80 cm

In my work I try to unite different global interpretations and aspects around these animals.
Extended rays VI,, 2021, Pigment print, scratched, frame stained in dark anthracite, 26 × 35,5 cm

Extended rays VI, 2021, Pigment print, scratched, frame stained in dark anthracite, 26 × 35,5 cm

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Right before the Covid-19 pandemic, I made a video about my work and my life in Tyrol. A lot has changed since then, but still it gives a glimpse into a moment that was important for my artistic development.

Portrait, Anna Vogel, 2020

Please click here for an overview of available works by Anna Vogel