Volume I – Anna McCarthy & Monika Bayer-Wermuth
Interview – March 2021
It is difficult to precisely define Anna McCarthy’s artistic practice; it overflows, has open borders and frayed edges, it oscillates between genres, languages, and different media. McCarthy works alone and collectively. “Practice what you preach” is what it is about and thus brings with it a consequent inseparability between the private and political sphere. She is one person and yet so much more – thinker and maker, feminist and altruist, poet and critic – rebel – artist.
Together with curator Monika Bayer-Wermuth, she talks about her work and current affairs, about hairy saints and witches in the 21st century, about language and scapegoats, about the moon and moths, gravitating towards the light. A conversation between the years.
Marta turns on the taps at night,she’s flooding the villa.Scenic route ends here.Cahuilla, Cahuilla, Cahuilla.The condor whispers in her earat the June-Lake junction:“We missed Independence.We missed Harmony”It’s a one-idiot-less tour onfreedom boulevard.Feather palms, fan palms,queen and king palms,almond wish wash,city council will squash.
DRINK COLD PISS WARM was first a poem, then a film and ultimately became an exhibition; the title stems from Henry Miller’s ’Black Spring’. The black humour and boiled-down criticism of overabundance and excess attracted me to it and seemed to be a fitting anecdote to what I was seeing. The aspect of drought in California was something that seemed to express this quite aptly.
The first vein I want to tap for you is DRINK COLD PISS WARM, which was first a poem, then a film and ultimately became an exhibition. I came across the title whilst reading Henry Miller’s “Black Spring“, which my friend Jihae had lent me to read in LA during a residency at the Villa Aurora. It is originally a quote from Petronius’ Satyricon, which is a story circling around a man who gets rich quick and celebrates lavish parties where the guests have to re-enact his funeral for his sole pleasure. The black humour and boiled-down criticism of overabundance and excess attracted me to it and seemed to be a fitting anecdote to what I was seeing. The aspect of drought in California was something that seemed to express this quite aptly.
Anna McCarthy, Drink Cold, Piss Warm (film), 2016, SD-Video, 25 min, 3 + 2 AP
I have to laugh right now, thinking about the Californian drought while a water damage is being fixed in my home – an evening before Christmas. I am panicking and feel quite agitated, torn between the fear that either everything will be flooded or that we won’t have any warm water over the holidays…both feels like an absolute catastrophe. And while I am sitting here at the computer, the radio is playing, and the television is running. I don’t know why or how I manage to cope.
Amidst this sensory overkill made up of seductive advertisements, sports TV, and news scraps – each of which with such a heavy weighting that it is difficult to numb them all down with tips for last minute gifts, another Christmas song, or luxury chocolate – I feel I have arrived at DRINK COLD PISS WARM.
But it is 2020! “Winter Wonderland” and the pandemic ticker take their turns respectively, “Last Christmas” is followed by a news report on the alarming conditions in the refugee camps, and we bear witness to the heart-breaking countdown to Brexit. Amidst this sensory overkill made up of seductive advertisements, sports TV (I love darts!), and news scraps – each of which with such a heavy weighting that it is difficult to numb them all down with tips for last minute gifts, another Christmas song, or luxury chocolate – I feel I have arrived at DRINK COLD PISS WARM, since your poem combines such diverging levels of reality with unbelievable speed. Through the poem’s terrific dynamic, things, which might not seem to belong together at first sight, rearrange themselves to a distinct logic and thereby become something new altogether. And things, which might have appeared banal initially, are ascribed political gravitas. You started with Henry Millers’ “Black Spring”, which was then interlaced with further observations, life-style-stereotypes, botany, history of science, fiction, and your profound humour. Could you tell us in more detail how these references came together in “DRINK COLD PISS WARM”?ANNA
The most dominant impression Los Angeles had on me was the city’s superfluousness. The fact that this city should not be where it is. There is just no water left for it. I had not previously realised that LA had been in drought for years and that all the surrounding lakes are pumped sponge-dry in order to provide water for the city. Water is needed for drinking, washing, plantations, including citrus and almond, as well as the upkeep of green lawns with sprinklers and the accompanying underpaid Mexican staff. LA has a real perversity to it.
I specifically got interested in the drought topic when I heard a radio show about the palms in LA. The mayor was being interviewed and they were talking about getting rid of all the palm trees due to their uselessness and maybe exchanging them for oak trees. Imagine LA without palm trees? That was an image that stayed in my mind. The palm trees most common to LA (the tall thin ones) are imported from Mexico and have no use but decoration. They do not give enough shade, nor do they have long lives – only 90 years and since many of them were planted 90-100 years ago they are now dying all across the city and their leaves and bark are falling onto the road, causing accidents. The only palm tree natural to California are the bushy Washington filifera, but they were not regarded as being sexy enough due to their bushy hairy tops. I thought this was an interesting image and metaphor for the deterioration of the Western World. Isn’t dazzly LA silver-screen city the epitome of that? The trees’ demise said a lot and seemed to represent a lot of what was going wrong on a global scale.
The way I accumulate information really represents how I try to approach all topics. I don’t want to pretend to be an anchor-woman or a scientist, but I am interested in what is going on in society and I want to pick up on imbalances.
Anna McCarthy, Sunburn (Black Cat), 2021, oil on canvas, 116 × 75 cm, photo: Sebastian Kissel
So, I concentrated on the palm trees and just began collecting everything in my sketchbook. I drove all around California twice and intuitively collected text, either thrown at me via radio and road signs, conversations, or just improvised thoughts. I write whilst I drive a lot too, without looking at the paper; the book open on the passenger seat. I visited the bone-dry lakes, saw farmers demonstrating their frustration at the consequences of the drought and met kids pumped on Ketamine in tents at the beach and in villas in the hills. I wasn’t interested in doing a documentary. I wanted to do a more kind of cross-section commentary based on numerous viewpoints.
The way I accumulate information really represents how I try to approach all topics. I don’t want to pretend to be an anchor-woman or a scientist, but I am interested in what is going on in society and I want to pick up on imbalances. Of course, visiting a place for three months does not give me an objective account, it is still clearly a subjective one.
I collect wildly and then distil it down. The sketchbooks are basically “artist books”; these, I use in every project as the fundament to numerous projects, be it painting, writing, films or music. I enjoy finding patterns in chaos. Everything has to be chaos first.
I also think this reflects the current way most people accumulate information – very often subjective and random.
I am attempting to find a way of doing this that can, despite its bad reputation, have a different outcome.
Anna McCarthy, Filthy Rich Earth, 2015, Frottage - Zeitungspapier auf MDF-Platte, 110 × 170 cm
FILTHY RICH EARTH is a frottage of a patch of earth in the garden at the Villa Aurora.
The music in the DRINK COLD PISS WARM video is by Jihae Simmons Meek and Wallace Meek a.k.a. Macrame. You also performed the song with Macrame and two Munich-based musicians and frequent collaborators of yours, Ruben Granados and Antenne Danger, at the Villa Aurora. Contrary to the poem, which is so incredibly fast-paced, you slowed down the song’s tempo. Is this just a subjective impression? And how much leeway did the musicians have?
This is what I love about music. You barely have to communicate with each other, if you have a good feeling. If it works, it works. I love chance and mistakes. For me, improvisation in music is a method, which is just as important as it is in art.
Wallace already had this melody, which can be heard over and over again, and Antenne, on the organ, simply adapted to this melody – she did so automatically, because she played a lead instrument. Ruben and Jihae had entire free parts; Ruben on the synthesizer and Jihae on the slide guitar. Everyone did actually improvise, except for this one melody. The speed simply depends on the mood. In this case, the audience was big and the space therefore hot and stuffy – you slow down your pace automatically. It felt like the space was breathing along through the silent film organ played by Antenne Danger and in doing so also determined the pace. At various corners in the room, slats opened and closed and so further relayed the organ’s music. The organ fascinated me during the entire stay. I also played on it during my stay, but Antenne Dangers’ playing was the highlight. It reminded me of “Brother of Sleep”. We only did a short soundcheck once and then started to play immediately. I like to work in an uncomplicated way. This is what I love about music. You barely have to communicate with each other, if you have a good feeling. If it works, it works. I love chance and mistakes. For me, improvisation in music is a method, which is just as important as it is in art. I try to allow similar rules into my art practice. If the ingredients – the participants, the idea – are right, you simply have to surrender for everything to come together naturally. Blind trust is therefore essential. You have to allow yourself to let go. Only then, something magical can emerge.
Since, I have extracted parts of the poem to become a song with my current two bands WHAT ARE PEOPLE FOR? and MOON NOT WAR.
Anna McCarthy, Peece Fingers, 2016, lacquer, permanent marker and pastel on wood, 55 × 40 cm
The DRINK COLD PISS WARM exhibition in Munich at Sperling, elaborated on this topic of exploitation to topics affecting Germany at that time.
Anna McCarthy, DRINK COLD, PISS WARM I, 2016, dispersion, lacquer, charcoal and pastel on canvas, 194 × 196 cm
CUCKING STOOL picks up on the ducking stool used in the Middle Ages to punish or drown witches and other “unruly” people.
Two months prior to the exhibition, I had been in England, because my 95-year-old Granny had gotten so sick with a bladder and kidney infection that she was brought into hospital and had to subsequently move into a home. My mother and I spent those weeks before Christmas having to clear my Granny’s flat, finding stashes of money sewn into curtains and schnapps in her drawers. The doctors gave her very strong medication, which made her begin to hallucinate very strongly. She started speaking of big black men that carried her under the sea to beautiful places and tigers on the ceiling and, most interestingly, she began speaking about the Second World War, which she never had previously. She even began criticising the war. Up until that point, she had always been patriotic, defending the war, also due to my grandfather having been a bomber pilot. I don’t think they ever got over us living in Germany, also because my grandmother is Jewish, although her family was not affected by the 2nd World War. Her father fled Minsk during the Jewish pogroms and immigrated to London, taking on the name that many Jews did, Davidson, and became a tailor. My grandmother is also a seamstress who fixed wealthy people’s clothes in her front room.
In Christchurch, where my grandmother had lived prior to the nursing home, there is such a ducking stool, still installed as a kind of open-air museum by the river. My mother and I went there at night and spoke about my Grandmother’s past and how she is now coming out with many truths due to the strong medication she was receiving.
The CUCKING STOOL is an example of scapegoating then and now. Now, being specifically the refugees arriving, also having to cross water, being ducked in the water, drowning, like the witches of the past. A new scapegoat is always found.
The CUCKING STOOL is also a mobile – it is purposefully very fragile and unbalanced, constantly in motion, threatening, a daunting jangly accumulation of brutality and leftovers – firecrackers, burnt bread, sheep bells, mini nooses, postcards, fast-food wrappers, food stamps, “a passport to the other side”. It is made of scraps and will hopefully fall apart at the next gust of wind. The attached chain and tassel are reminiscent of a British decadent colonial toilet flush. It hovers above the sea, a sea of jewels and junk.
Anna McCarthy, PASSPORT to the Other Side, mixed media, 12.5 × 8.5 cm
Anna McCarthy, Realitätsflüchtlinge, 2016, 4-Kanal video, video loop, 10 min, 3 + 2 AP
I had been doing voluntary work at the train station when all the refugees arrived at Munich’s Central Station. A few weeks later, Horst Seehofer (Federal Minister of the Interior of Germany) closed the borders, because of the Oktoberfest.
Anna McCarthy, A8 salzburg richtung münchen (how to hide in a hatchback), 2015/16, acrylic on Molton and wood, 54 × 65 cm
This is a sign in the exhibition that was visible from the outside. Anything Arabic was being demonised at that time. Fear fanning had become a popular pastime.
I was working on the book MIGRANTENSTADL together with my friends Tunay Önder and Imad Mustafa. I did the layout and design and I was asked to do some Arabic calligraphy. As a joke, Imad translated DRINK COLD PISS WARM into Arabic for me and I made this signs to hang above the door to my exhibition.
Anna McCarthy, DRINK COLD, PISS WARM, 2016, acrylic on metal, 31 x 69 cm
For me, Helen of Troy is the perfect example of how much our Western societies depend on the idea of the scapegoat. A woman so beautiful, she can provoke a war. This, of course, was a good excuse for a great war – an approach that still works effortlessly in today’s media landscape – but it actually never was the real reason.
Yesterday, when I was blow-drying my hair, I thought about you and our conversation about the concept of the scapegoat. My hair dryer is from Vidal Sassoon in the UK. I believe, it is still from the 90s. The model is called “Helen of Troy”. For me, Helen of Troy is the perfect example of how much our Western societies depend on the idea of the scapegoat. A woman so beautiful, she can provoke a war. This, of course, was a good excuse for a great war – an approach that still works effortlessly in today’s media landscape – but it actually never was the real reason. In fact, it is rarely ever of interest. I prefer the version of the myth (alternative facts) in which Helen does not come with Paris, but sends a double and leaves for Egypt instead. For me, it is precisely this human tragedy that lies at the core of your drawing.
I find it interesting that the DRINK COLD PISS WARM drawing directly follows the poem’s form. And, yet, there is another anchor around which further themes and ideas begin to group themselves; in this case, the idea of scapegoating and torture of women, who were once declared witches; Alan Kurdi, the two-year-old, whose refugee boat capsized and who washed up lifeless at the Turkish beach resort Bodrum, a volcanic eruption on Iceland, personal events and incidents as well as the condition of your gravely ill grandmother, who suffered from hallucinations caused by her medication. All these things, as different as their context may appear, suddenly stand in connection with one another. The red drawing of the torture scene – a group of four men, determined to drown an elderly woman tied to a chair – functions as a sort of filter through which other motives and themes migrated before they finally did reach your piece of paper.
I think, once you concentrate on a topic, you begin to see connections everywhere. This form of digesting knowledge is currently wide-spread and almost everywhere. This is further enhanced in combination with the internet. This is what I would like to depict visually in order to understand it. I believe this phenomenon is well-known and filter-bubbles are evident products of it. It reflects the way we accumulate knowledge. As we know by now, this brings with it numerous dangers; such as the emergence of right-wing groups, who compare Corona with the Holocaust or commit attacks. It holds infinite possibilities to create your own logic; a logic, which, in the end, will only make sense to yourself. We are all part of this and have to learn and adapt new approaches to deal with this situation. The diagram-like drawings are supposed to reveal and analyse this in a playful manner.
How did you come across the historical subject of witch hunting, torture, and scapegoating?
The witch-hunts are something I always have to think of. Ever since I was little, I believed that I certainly would have ended up at the stake. That sounds probably melodramatic, but it’s true.
I like to make jokes about burning at the stake. I use humour to deal with fear.
I think it’s the only sensible way of dealing with day-to-day problems. It’s always the places that have the most problems who have the best humour.
Salewski – Painted On (feat. Anna McCarthy)
Anna McCarthy – black & blue – PAW
Ever since I was little, I believed that I certainly would have ended up at the stake. This sounds melodramatic, but it’s true. I like to make jokes about burning at the stake. I use humour to deal with fear.
In Munich, people are living in a bell-jar Disneyland and complain about the silliest things. It wrenches my stomach when people exude unnecessary anger, shouting at each other in traffic or in shop queues or calling the police on someone for throwing a party. It all adds to a certain kind of climate that cannot produce anything good.
Another reason I specifically focused on the scapegoating of women is because I most identify with it and find it best always to speak from what I have actually experienced, otherwise it seems duplicitous.
I have experienced a good deal of violence and that has made me very angry. Violence against women is something I get very worked up about and which I try to fight in my personal life as well as in supporting others and organisations working against it. I am extremely defensive and sensitive when it comes to this topic.
A song that I sing with the band SALEWSKI is about violence I have experienced and I did a song during Corona that I had been meaning to do for a long time “black & blue”, which also addresses this topic. The increase of violence during lockdown was one of the reasons:
Anna McCarthy, Ying-Yang Penis, 2016, collage, 153 × 56 cm
“Yin-Yang Penis” and “We’re All the Same When Skinned” are clearly purposefully provocative titles in relation to the media coverage about the “Kölner Silvesternacht” (New Year’s Eve in Cologne) of 2015. How women were depicted as these weak objects that had to be protected by German men from bad dark-skinned foreign males. As if German men would never molest or abuse “their women”.
My sister-in-law Lizzie wrote her thesis in sociology about the media coverage following the Kölner Silvesternacht and we had a lot of discussions about it.
“Yin-yang penis” is a collage of a white dress (a replica of my mother’s wedding dress), some hairy leering cartoony threatening hands, a potato sack (resembling the Cambridge rapist’s mask) and a policeman’s truncheon, hanging out the bottom of the dress like a penis, painted like a yin-yang symbol, as if a child had painted it. Violence against women in general should be discussed, not just blamed on foreigners.
Anna McCarthy, We're All The Same When Skinned, 2016, Mixed Media, dimensions variable
Detail: Anna McCarthy, We're All The Same When Skinned, 2016, Mixed Media, dimensions variable
The pink corsets are called: “We are all the same when skinned”, which is reminiscent of hung-up animal skins– so when our skin is pulled off, we all look the same underneath. Attached to the skins are newspaper snippets of that time; “Auf Armlänge” (to hold someone/something at arm’s length) was one of the worst illustrations used to depict that New Year’s Eve: a black hand groping a white woman’s crotch. Racist graphics, especially coming from a newspaper, such as the Süddeutsche Zeitung, they were heavily criticised from all sides at the time.
Anna McCarthy, Fassbinder in Lalaland, 2015, HD video, 15 min 54 sec, 3 + 2 AP
Good morning, Anna! I watched the great Fassbinder in Lalaland yesterday. I love how you play him! We have full moon right now. A year with 13 moons; of course, it makes me think of Fassbinder. What is it that fascinates you so much about him that you had to resurrect him?
To be honest, I would have never chosen Fassbinder voluntarily. I avoid citing well-known personalities; it looks like you want to associate yourself with their name on purpose. I made this short film, because the Fassbindertage (a Fassbinder organisation) asked me to. But I have somehow always felt connected to Fassbinder, his wild and drunken nature is likeable and the way he makes his films – include all your friends and fast and dirty – is similar to my own way of working. Ultimately, I don’t mind being associated with him at all. This also resulted in a nice exchange with Uli Lommel, who has now sadly passed away.
I was supposed to create a kind of homage for his 70th birthday, to be shown in his old flat opposite the Deutsche Eiche (a famous gay hotel) on his birthday. They actually wanted me to stage an “Antiteatre” (anti-theatre) play, which I would have loved to do. Unfortunately, I had just flown out to LA. This is why I made a short film instead, including everyone who was at the Villa Aurora at that time. I only had 2 weeks and was watching all the Fassbinder films I had not yet seen (as well as a number of Douglas Sirk films) and read a lot. I wrote the script very fast. Every scene is either a reference to Fassbinder’s films or other random situations; for example, the lighting technician guy with the reflector at the beginning or the people on the balcony I did not film. Our shoot was not that professional. No! This was a German production, which filmed a trailer with Jan Josef Liefers. I just unashamedly utilised the lighting technician so that my “interview” comes across as “professional”. Of course, I actually do despise professionalism and the lighting technician agreed.
Of course, I actually do despise professionalism.
Mathilde Bonnefoy was in the room next to mine and we became good friends. She was hiding away at the villa, because she produced the Snowden film “Citizenfour”. She was always telling me to avoid the internet and especially Facebook. I actually mention this in my DRINK COLD PISS WARM poem. The artist Cyrill Lachauer plays the Pilates Fassbinder and the CIA pilot, the artist Antje Engelmann was behind the camera. Margit Kleinman and Friedel Schmoranzer-Johnson manage the Villa Aurora, and Diana Norris and Marius Lorenz were the interns. Udo Moll played the music scholarship holder. The only one, who could not participate, was the poet Daniela Seel, because she was travelling somewhere in California, researching for her project.
This year was Fassbinder’s 75th birthday. They contacted me again to make a film and the planned theatre piece was again cancelled due to Corona.
Language plays a big role in my life. I enjoy playing with the Oxford or the Queen’s English, because I really can’t stand it. To me, it represents the UK’s inherent ruling class system (and I specifically mean England). Through Brexit, I think, ’the continent’ is now starting to realise how extreme it is and has been for a very long time.
Poetry is a language of its own. I believe language overall is important in your work. You play with your perfect Oxford English – where does this come from? You like to speak Bavarian, but are also able to speak High German. You sing and write in English. Which role does language play in your work and what role do you play in which language? I once read that with each language, one adopts a different identity. How many Anna McCarthys are there?ANNA
Language plays a big role in my life, yes. I do enjoy playing with the Oxford or the Queen’s English, because I really can’t stand it. To me, it represents the UK’s inherent ruling-class system (and I specifically mean England). Through Brexit, I think, “the continent” is now starting to realise how extreme it is and has been for a very long time.
My whole life, I moved back and forth between England and Germany, so I was automatically always comparing the two cultures. The Second World War still loomed heavily over these impressions. In England, I was always the German or even “the Nazi”, and in Germany I was always “the English girl”. I was always quite shocked about how the Brits were so un-reflecting in regard to the Second World War. The conclusion was basically: “We won. You are all losers. Hahahaha”. Whilst in Germany, on the other hand, it was a constant process of reflection, an anti-patriotic era that lasted (sadly only) up until about the 2000s. Brits still have this delusional image of themselves that they are the rulers of the seas. Even just listening to the BBC, you can hear this omnipresent class system – nearly all the speakers are posh and speak Oxford English. A dialect immediately puts you in a caste. Many people, even my parents, trained themselves to not speak Cockney (my mum) and Liverpudlian (my dad), in order to get better jobs.
I sadly naturally speak a more “high” English, because I grew up in Germany and wasn’t surrounded by dialect. So, annoyingly when I go to Britain, people often think I am rich. So, I suppose, I am making fun of myself as well. The voice I like to put on for performances and videos is an extremely heightened version of the posh Queen’s English. I like to take on roles I want to criticise, as is the case for the BLOODLESS series.
Anna McCarthy & Paulina Nolte, BLOODLESS BOUTIQUE, 2019, digital video, 4 min 20 sec
It was like a dystopic ’Bauerntheater’ (folk theatre) and worse than anything you can imagine. The police officer was obviously lying and denied everything, saying he couldn’t remember any details. He even compared her burnt body to a piece of grilled meat on a barbecue, whilst another policeman sat behind him and looked at his phone.
I also work as a translator for mainly art, philosophy, music and political text, so I am constantly thinking about language. I would prefer to mishmash the languages. That is my ideal. Maybe then, I am most myself. I do feel different in German than I do in English. In normal conversations I find it easier to speak in German, but I find writing and reading easier in English. I only translate from German to English, not the other way around. I use translating as a way to earn money, to read and research, and I use it for social and political means, in that I offer free translations to causes I want to support. For example, I translated for the NSU-Watch, an anti-fascist group that protocolled the trial surrounding the NSU murders (National Socialist Underground Murders). I also worked as an interpreter; for a visiting lawyer from King’s College, who was interested in the trial. We sat in the visitor’s box and I talked into his ear, translating the ongoings of the trial. That was a very interesting experience and also disturbing; I was translating so fast that I didn’t have time to process what I was saying. Only afterwards did the information slowly seep into my brain. It was the day of the trial where one of the victims of the Cologne Keupstraße bomb attack was speaking about the attack and her experience with the police.
It was like a dystopic “Bauerntheater” (folk theatre) and worse than anything you can imagine. The police officer was obviously lying and denied everything, saying he couldn’t remember any details. He even compared her burnt body to a piece of grilled meat on a barbecue, whilst another policeman sat behind him and looked at his phone.
I like to be able to use the languages I know to support people working against this kind of systemic violence.
Writing in itself is something I do on a daily basis. I accumulate huge amount of sketch books, which I then use to develop all my projects from. When I am doing new songs with bands, I open up a few of these sketch books and read randomly from them and then distil and rewrite them later (or not, it depends).
I could write so much more about language, but it all might come out naturally in our conversation anyway.
Anna McCarthy, Beginning of violence, 2017, pencil on paper, 20 × 30 cm
Anna McCarthy, Hexe im Wald, 2018, ink, acrylic on pasteboard, 65.5 × 50.5 cm
For me, “Hexe im Wald” (Witch in the Forest) reveals a strong relation to the drawing “Beginning of Violence”. Both works are explicitly about you and your own personal history. You say, you wanted to outgrow yourself when you drew yourself as a witch in the forest. This seems totally appropriate for me. You have a content smile and all the things and maybe even thoughts, which circle around you, keep a certain distance to you. You can control them and also let them roll pass you. They are not you. I also love the warm colours. The work has an incredible energy. Whether indirectly, as seen with the theme of scapegoating, or directly in form of a self-portrait, as seen here, you are not only the author of your work but often also the protagonist or motive. Do personal experiences enter your work inevitably or are these used specifically for a reason? I am not even sure whether this question is accurate in itself, but I am simply interested in where the boundaries are, if there are any, between Anna McCarthy as an artist and private person?ANNA
There is no boundary. I find it impossible to separate them from one another. I would not even know how this works. In my opinion, emotions always have to play a role in art. This is why the private and the “public” are inevitably connected with each other. But, as I said before, the private sphere must also always be a reflection of others and the dominant currencies in society. A decision of what will ultimately go public is always made, it is never uncontrolled. What is really private, remains private; instead, an abstraction, a kind of edited version, will go public. It is not my aim to stand there naked, bleeding publicly, but my work will always be interlaced with my heart’s blood, otherwise it just would not make sense. It is similar to a love song. It is possible to work through one’s own emotions through something that addresses and connects with others.
Anna McCarthy, Heart Head, 2006, collage and permanent marker on paper, 30 × 20.9 cm
Anna McCarthy, Fuka, 2008, collage, indian ink, lacquer
Anna McCarthy, Panties, paper collage, 29.5 x 21 cm
The “witch” is therefore definitely a part of your identity. Let’s talk about witches in the present age again. This time, I will tell you about my grandmother, because she was the first women I met, who was different. At least, she acted completely different to all the women in the little village she lived in. She never talked bad behind anyone’s back and she was never tempted to join any sort of gossip feasts. She was rather on her own and grew plants; she preferred to plant vegetables and herbs. She was very adventurous and grew aubergines already in the 1960s. She also had Goji berries later. If she were still alive and had an Instagram account, she would be the queen of the super foods.
The aspirations of acquiring food and produce that is ’regional’ can tip quite quickly into something conservative and right-wing. In Germany, a new kind of patriotism arose that had been suppressed since the Second World War. Even just the sudden over-use of the word ’Dahoam’ (Bavarian for ’home’) or ’Heimat’ (German for ’home’) made this clearly apparent. Food affects us all and therefore automatically enters into the political discourse, but it is an especially interesting aspect that combines many topics – class difference, import/export, globalism, capitalism, colonialism – that affect us all to varying degrees.
I think about my grandmother a lot in general, and how my grandparents lived their life working as small farmers, which some might call poor, although their experiences and appreciation of life enriched them profoundly – my grandmother’s interest in plants, flowers, or bread baking, while she listened to recordings of rosary readings playing in the background (she would also be a real influencer when it comes to the art of meditation) – and my grandfather, who was able to point out and make you aware of the perfect moment of the sunset above a field. This is what I was thinking about when you mentioned you do not want to have that much and that the things, which we purchase, the objects of our consumption, only make our life harder and more complicated, but by no means richer. The great danger is, however, that – similar to esotericism – this concept of “the good life” is exploited by right-wing populists and also works very well as an ideological tool in this context. AfD politicians (Alternative for Germany, a German nationalist and right-wing populist political party) who exchange old German apple pie recipes – this sends shivers down my spine.ANNA
Yes, it is strangely still seen as something negative for a woman to want to be alone or speak to her plants. Your Grandma sounds like a holy sane woman. I learnt to speak to my plants a few years ago and I can grow anything I put my fingers to since.
I sometimes do wish I didn’t have an Instagram account or a Smartphone. In that sense I am weak, it’s pathetic. A lot of my friends still don’t have smartphones and I admire them. They are an almost puritanical monastic gang of rockers, it seems. The aspirations of acquiring food and produce that is “regional” can tip quite quickly into something conservative and right-wing.
In Germany, a new kind of patriotism arose that had been suppressed since the Second World War. Even just the sudden over-use of the word “Dahoam” (Bavarian for “home”) or “Heimat” (German for “home”) made this clear. Food affects us all and therefore automatically enters into the political discourse, but it is an especially interesting aspect that combines many topics – class differences, import/export, globalism, capitalism, colonialism – that affect us all to varying degrees.
Anna McCarthy, Realitätsflüchtlinge, 2016, collage, 129 × 89 cm
What are Goji berries?
I want to hear those rosary recordings! Do you have one?
The Ministry of Health says the Goji berry (or wolfberry) originally comes from China and Mongolia and is presumably (!) one of the best foods in the world. I will ask my mum and aunties about the rosary recordings, but I doubt we will find them.ANNA
I also think that the word witch can be used in a derogatory way and should be used with a pinch of salt. My friend, the artist Anna Witt, was recently asked to do a work about witches in a town that has a history of witch burning and she refused to work with that topic and instead worked with a group of women “which focused on the effects of the pandemic and the resulting crisis for women.” It was called “Skinfront”. Much more empowering and independent than being put in a Schublade (lit. drawers, German idiom for “being put in a box”). I love the Schubladenlied (Schubladen Song), do you know it?
I remember talking to my good friend from Iceland, Rebecca Erin Moran, 10 years ago about how we should organise an exhibition only with the women who see themselves as witches. A few years later “witch” became a very popular word that young girls used to call themselves on the internet and especially the music scene exploded in witch terminology as a form of empowerment. Feminism came alive in the mainstream and it was suddenly glitzy and glamorous. And, of course, the #metoo movement really managed to change a lot of the landscape, especially for men– legally and personally. Strangely, many men only then started asking: “Really, is that what it is like for you?” And women just think: “What?? It has always been like this. How could you have not noticed?” It is time that men be educated and, above all, educate themselves. Same old, same old problem. Just like BlackLivesMatter where us whities have to see to our education ourselves and not expect to have that served to us on a platter. But as with many things, when it does not affect you personally then you can look away all the easier.
That was also a big part of the domestic violence I was caught up in. The longest relationship I was trapped in; as mentioned before, I was stuck in for so long also because people surrounding me would look away and then a kind of psychosis took place that I believed it must be my fault, if everyone is looking away. I even had friends say that “it only takes two to tango” and things like that, so I began lying and hiding. I was ashamed of the violence that I was allowing myself to be subjected to. Me! Of all people. People thought of me as strong and independent and then at home, I am being beaten for dropping a crumb on the floor, using the wrong knife or drinking three beers instead of two. I found a way of ignoring and forgetting it as soon as the violence ended. Only the bruises remained, nagging at me. And of course, it was also a belief in love. I always hoped that he would stop. Every time I fell for his apologies. I was ashamed, I was acting exactly like the stories I had always seen on TV, like the Jerry Springer show or other talk shows and now I was like that. I knew exactly what I was doing and that I was being manipulated etc. but I was caught up in a vacuum. I also lived with him, so it was difficult to imagine changing everything. What is still terrible to this day is that he is regarded as this cool grassroots political-correct promoter guy. That still makes me burn inside. What saved me in the end was good friends who fought for me and told me that he will never change and that I have to get out of there. When I now try to help others to get out of these situations, I say that over and over again until it is burnt into the person’s brain. That is the main thing you can do as a friend: be stubborn and supportive. As soon as someone says they have been beaten, then they have to get out of there. Full stop.
Anna McCarthy, Black & Blue Beauties, 2021, acrylic and crayon on canvas, 60 × 80 cm, photo: Sebastian Kissel
I am currently working on something surrounding this topic, also in regard to the increase of violence against women during Corona. It is hard though to rekindle bad memories. I would like to just delete that whole part of my life. Not though, the things going on at the same time. I was exhibiting a lot at that time and I had my first band. I never stopped making my work. To develop a confidence in weakness is a hard fight, but you are right, it is exactly what is needed. I constantly just see problems everywhere that are connected to these old, mainly white, male constructs. I am sick of seeing men in power everywhere and I am sick of seeing white people in power everywhere.
“Cheater”, DAMENKAPELLE, Echokammer Records, 2012, video by Manuela Gernedel & Morag Keil
Sadly, there is a yin for every yang and there is a huge counter movement that misses the “good old days”. It is a hard fight. Everything keeps on turning in vicious circles. Now I look at my candles and the altars I build around myself. What am I trying to ward off?
Anna McCarthy, The Crying, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 30 × 24 cm, photo: Sebastian Kissel
I have as many email addresses as I have keys.
Anna McCarthy, Esprit, 2011, gouache pencil on paper, 30 × 21 cm
Anna McCarthy, End is Nigh, 2006, crayon and pencil on paper, 20 × 29.7 cm
A big moth just flew past me and now it sticks to my window… where did moths actually go before there was artificial light? I am going to bed now. Maybe it can then go too.ANNA
Very interesting question. I think they used to fly into candles too like “moths to a flame”. A real fatal attraction, but who knows, maybe way back when they used to not be nocturnal, they would fly like berserkers into the sun and their corpses would lay scattered across the mountain tops. I can’t imagine them flying into the moon though. I have heard that the Old Lady moth hates lights. Maybe the old lady likes the old man in the moon. Boobeedoo hoohoo.MONIKA
I was too curious about the moths and looked them up. Like you said, it is a fatal attraction, which we created with artificial light. The moth does not fly to the moon, but orientates itself on it in order to fly straight. The moon is with us at the moment. New Year, shortly after the full moon, seemed unreal and melancholically beautiful. The moon’s magic is important for an entire series of works and, last but not least, also appears in the name of your band “Moon Not War”.
In your work, the moon is masculine and the sun feminine. In this instance, I believe, the English language – despite its neuter gender articles – and German operate similarly, unlike the French or Italian languages. I find this relevant, because this idea of gender identity is directly reflected in your representations or stories, such as your wonderful “Fat Moon Fairytale” (2018). It makes a huge difference that French children draw the moon as a woman and the sun as a man!
It is precisely this gender question that can be found in the title of the exhibition THE MAN IN THE MOON (AND SHE LIKES IT). This means that the moon must be female, if the man is IN the moon. Get it? Get it? It’s a bit sexy too, like the Volvo sex..MONIKA
Could you talk a little bit more about your lunatism? You are a gifted storyteller – whether you use words, images, collages, or films; I actually wanted to talk to you about this, but I am very happy to listen to one of your stories instead!
The subject moon interested me as a kind of democratic idea.
(What happened with your Volvo, actually? Could the broken window be fixed over the holidays? If I think about your drawings, it seems to be a kind of magical car.)
Anna McCarthy, Alter Schwede, 2018, oil on wood on pasteboard, 77 × 116 cm
The subject of the moon interested me as a kind of democratic idea. What connects us all? The sun, the earth, the moon, etc.; it is a simple thought. I have a very beautiful text about this topic, called “Moon Lore”, written by a certain reverend Timothy Harley in 1885. He outlines and compares the similarities found in the stories about the moon worldwide – fairy tales and other narratives. He also talks about gender differences and the striking parallels some of these tales show. In doing so, he reveals what really unites us, independent of country of origin or skin colour, etc.
I thought this was a very touching thought and sounded like a fairy tale in itself. At that time, I felt the urge to create work, which was sweeter and more inviting than what I had done before. I tried to create something sugar-sweet and what’s cuter than children fairy tales? Given the brutal and unforeseen events of 2016, I strongly felt that my previous pessimism and sarcasm were not always helpful.
I attempt in all my works to strip things down to a very simple language and very often it is as if I was actually doing work for children. I am a big admirer of simplicity and playfulness. It is also similar to the thought of returning to abstraction and childlike drawings rather than choosing the grandeur of being a master. It is also clearly an anti-elitist thought. An admitting and embracing of failure, mistakes and weaknesses. Fairy tales should continue to be told and evolve. They should remain in-flux and not stagnate in the past.
At the end, art is nothing else. Art invented everything in the first place. Every child knows that.
I also like to use references to children’s stories as a form of insult. Very often, I feel like adults act like they are still in Kindergarten and so what else am I to do than address them as children?
It is also just a healthy (and sometimes scary, boo!) way of looking at politics and other hierarchical structures. It is a bit like the thought of imagining everyone in their underwear.
The reactions to “Fat Moon Fairytale” were very sweet. I got so much feedback from all over the world, because I think so many people can really identify with a topic like that.
Equally, the time I spent at the Sternwarte (observatory) in Munich was very special too. A bunch of star-loving volunteers run the Sternwarte and their boss is an outspoken Marxist. So we also had some political conversations whilst we filmed the moon. I was allowed to attach a camera to the big telescope and that was very interesting and fun to do. The green moon at the end is the full moon we filmed through the telescope.
I have not been talking about the moon so much since, although the past few weeks were pretty intense. I was in contact with a lot of friends and we were all having crazy nightmares and insomnia and we were hoping it wasn’t a premonition of the next year, because they were the “Rauhnächte” (lit. “the rough nights”, the twelve nights between Christmas Eve and Epiphany).
The last two nights I have slept well again though.
How about you?
Yes, it’s really crazy how the moon affects us. I do believe this very strongly. The moon’s gravitational pull generates the tidal forces. And the lunar calendar is indispensable also in the forest industry, above all, when it comes to the felling of trees. Why should it not also have a strong impact on us humans?
Fairy tales were intended to further the psychological and empathetic development of our minds. Horrible things happen in fairy tales, some of an unspeakable nature. In the end, however, life continues and people can be happy again. This is very comforting.
Between the two of us, in respect to the moon, I actually do believe in fate and coincidence as well as in cosmic energies. I also believe that our thoughts transmit waves, which can be received by others. When it comes to superstition, however, I remain sceptical, because it holds within the danger of being misused or being taken too literally.
And I totally agree with you: without myth, there would be no art! It is the beginning of everything.
Fairy tales have always had a political and psychological dimension. These tales for children are often also characterised by incredible brutality. Unlike fables, the educational aspect does not lie in the logical reversion of an argument in order to understand what is morally right or wrong. Fairy tales were intended to foster the psychological and empathetic development of our minds. Horrible things happen in fairy tales, some of an unspeakable nature. In the end, however, life continues and people can be happy again. This is very comforting and should – so I believe – also fulfil its intention, to give hope in order to face and get through difficult situations. Your fairy tale has this dimension too. I also think it is very fitting for this moment; not only because the moon is concerning us these days, but also because the last year, as difficult as it was, revealed that we, as earth’s inhabitants, are all connected with each other. The moon is a positive expression for precisely this and I am very happy he is returning once again.
I absolutely agree. Why shouldn’t we be influenced by the moon?
Anna McCarthy, Westwood Crumbs, 2017, paper and mixed media collage on canvas, 200 × 80 cm
This kind of collage and draping and hanging is something which is very natural to me. I do it all over my home, car and studio. It is an accumulation of objects hung delicately and arranged in a certain way; a bit like an altar I suppose. Usually it is things I find lying around.
Anna McCarthy, Onuphrius, 2017, ink, paper collage, mixed media on canvas, 140 x 65 cm
This is a hanging picture dedicated to Saint Onuphrius, who is actually the patron saint of Munich and is a hermaphrodite from Syria. He/she was sent into the desert by his/her family and lived there as a hermit for decades; crawling on all fours with long fingernails, his/her hair grew all over his/her body. Henry the Lion supposedly brought back some of his/her bones and “founded Munich” with them. You can find a mural of him/her above the Rischart bakery at the Marienplatz and in the Frauenkirche as well as an especially nice fresco on the outside wall of the chapel at Schloss Blutenburg.
I also made a poster of it for the Forum Homosexualität on invitation of Philip Gufler, with a description of its history and an appeal to make hermaphroditic hairy saints more visible.
I love hairy saints.
Poster for the archive of the Forum Homosexualität München within the framework of Philip Guflers’ exhibition and publication “I wanna give you devotion” in collaboration with Hamman & Von Mier Verlag
Anna McCarthy, Hairy Hermitess, 2021, ink, pencil and crayon on paper, 30 × 21 cm, photo: Sebastian Kissel
You like the hairy saints! That is great, because when I read your story about Onuphrius and then saw your accompanying life-sized work, I immediately had to think about my favourite saint: Saint Wilgefortis. Hieronymus Bosch painted a magnificent painting of her, which can be found in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice. Recently renovated, it revealed facial hair, a beard to be precise, which she grew on her face during the wedding night. It was given to her by God. But she was no longer deemed attractive enough to proceed with the sexual act on her wedding night. Her father (!) was so angry that he sentenced her to death on the cross. In England she is known as Uncumber. Witches and saints often share a lot. They, too, defy social norms or do not fit into existing structures and won’t or can’t adapt. Your work involves myth, a deep connection to the supernatural, yet profoundly human realm.ANNA
Hairy Mary Magdalena is one of the funniest and beautiful. I hope to grow up to be as grand as her someday. My middle name is Mary and I am Irish now, so that might help.
Anna McCarthy, Detroit Flag, 2017, acrylic on fabric in artists frame, 77 × 58 cm
Anna McCarthy, Lola (dead), 2018, oil on wood, 60 × 50 cm
Anna McCarthy, Lola, 2017, acrylic on fabric in artists frame, 77 × 58 cm
This is a tribute series to the turkey Lola you saw in the “Fat Moon Fairytale” video. She was a transvestite called Lola and was also regarded to be an oracle. Her head changed colours when she got excited. She liked humans. We got along very well and I painted her in the garden in Detroit. Lola belonged to Popps Packing, where I was doing a residency. They saved her from a hormone-pumped Thanksgiving turkey farm. Sadly, she developed a respiratory disease whilst I was there. Dean (who you saw in the video) had to kill her, but he did it with great love. He laid out the dissembled parts in the garden to bleed out – we had to walk through her feathers. It was very sad and we did a dance for her, as you can see in the drawing. She was eaten on New Year’s Eve when I had already returned to Munich.
I sang the slowed-down Kinks song for her, which is also about a certain transvestite named Lola:
Anna McCarthy, LOLA – Anna & The Kinks
I clearly remember Lola and Dean too. She combines some of our thoughts: she was a Feathered Saint!
Your images of her are great! And I am happy you had left before she was eaten on New Year’s Eve. It sounds very respectful, but I am still relieved for you.
“Well, I’m not dumb but I can’t understand why she walked like a woman but talked like a man”.
My ideal, romanticised, precarious life gives me freedom. I take pride in scraping by. I am good at making something from nothing. I prefer living on a low income, because it avoids me being in debt, which I regard as one of the biggest disasters of our time. The smallest of things therefore give me pleasure.
Anna McCarthy, Turning Tables, ca. 200 cm × 120 cm, mixed media auf Holz, 2013
One rich side of the table, the other poor.Rich = Gold chains on plate, two phones, two forks.Poor = Plate full of pennies, champagne flute full of shitand a pan for both with bread, string and burnt-out candles
How does your ideal, romanticised, precarious life look like, dear Anna? You have dealt with this question in several of your works. Do you want to talk about it?
Anna McCarthy, FLASCHENPFAND HIERARCHIE, Acrylic on bottles + shelves, 2012
My ideal, romanticised, precarious life gives me freedom. I take pride in scraping by. I am good at making something from nothing. I prefer living on a low income, because it avoids me being in debt, which I regard as one of the biggest disasters of our time. The smallest of things therefore give me pleasure. I enjoy splashing out in a glamorous way when I can. It is a way of living that also allows me to remain flexible and to constantly improvise. I constantly re-use things, sometimes even disassemble sculptures and make new ones from them. I rarely buy new material, usually only paints, brushes and paper. Most of the materials I find or am given. I adapt to what I get and, surprisingly, that often times suits what I want to do. I guess that’s destiny.
It has made my life also easy during the pandemic times.
Anna McCarthy, Campari, 2021, ink and gouache on paper, 47 x 36 cm, photo: Sebastian Kissel
I did once create a precarious temple in the form of a parallel universe LIDL. It was a supermarket from hell. It was right next to a real LIDL and it was in Bielefeld. The fees I receive for projects from institutions, I invest mostly in paying the people I work with. I make an effort to pay everyone. I have a close-knit group of people I work with that makes so many projects possible, be it musically, in film or theatre or whatever really. We interact with one another and participate in each other’s projects. That is our gold and the reason why I always came back to this city. With my gallerist Sperling, I have a similarly close and honest relationship and I am very clear about who I want to work with and who I sell to.
UNHAPPY OATS, oatmeal on wood, glass and cent pieces, 2013
DAS HAT SICH DOCH GELOHNT, 1AB, Bielefeld, (DE), 2016
I spoke to some friends yesterday, who were talking about how strange it is that people have gotten used to the fact that the AfD is the 3rd strongest party in this country, the country that invested so much work in the “Aufarbeitung” (reappraisal) of its Nazi past.MONIKA
I totally agree with you what concerns the acceptance for the AfD. It is true, there is a growing de-sensibilisation, tolerance and acceptance towards right-wing populist and neo-Nazi statements. It is also true that the commitment to “never forget” is neglected. This makes me very angry. And even more so, when so-called Querdenker (lit. lateral thinkers, a group opposed to corona-virus related restrictions) exploit symbols, signs, and identities of victims and of members of the resistance for their own purposes. Quotes by Sophie Scholl are taken out of context and misused as advertising slogans by those who refuse to wear masks while Corona deniers print Anne Frank’s image on their t-shirts, etc. I also had to think a lot about what you mentioned a few days ago, when you wrote about the NSU-Watch and NSU trial. Language creates realities and as long as state authorities are able to investigate under the case file name “Mordserie Bosporus” (Murder Spree Bosporus) – alone the labelling of a file with such a title is highly racist – is of high concern and very indicative. This means that racism is already in the system and will continue to sweep in until it finally finds its full acceptance. This endangers our legal system. Luckily, there are media and initiatives, which follow and monitor the developments critically. But is this enough?
The essence of populism and fascism is fear; fighting this fear would make visible the many existing grievances and the actual state of affairs.
There are many people, who work tirelessly to put scandals, such as the NSU trial, in the public domain. Still, a certain political ignorance and a reluctance to believe published facts seem to prevail. We, of course, live in a reasonably well-functioning democracy, which is why so many do not understand the actual state of affairs, simply because they are not directly affected by it. Despite these things, trust in the legal system still exists. And, for it to stay this way, one has to fight back and take a clear stance against tirades of hate and the instilment of fear, as done by political parties, such as the AfD. The essence of populism and fascism is fear; fighting this fear would make visible the many existing grievances and the actual state of affairs.
I do sometimes have qualms about painting landscapes or at least I think about it a lot, just because it is seemingly too easy, but I try to ignore that nagging at me and just enjoy the process of making them and looking at them afterwards as fragments of memories.
Anna McCarthy, Hijack (HTSAR TV), 2016, HD Video (16:9), 7 min, 3 + 1AP
Kunstbau im Lenbachhaus München
Anna McCarthy, Hairy Spider, 2015, gouache ink on paper, 30.5 × 41 cm
Anna McCarthy, Laguna Capri, 2019, gouache on paper, acrylic on glass, 40 × 50 cm
Anna McCarthy, Montserrat (Valley), 2019, risograph, 30 × 40 cm, edition: 10
These are all painted in the mountains, on site, in between climbing or hiking trips, usually laid out on the ground on stuck-together sheets. “Montserrat (Esther)” is a print, because it was actually a present for a woman called Esther, a friend of a friend, who we lived with in the middle of nowhere, near the Montserrat mountains. We climbed by day and ate rabbit at night and she told us about her involvement in the Catalan independence movement. I painted this on her terrace. It is her view of the Montserrat mountains.
The original is four times the size of the print and now hangs in her house. I liked the memory so much that I had to make a riso print of the photo of the painting. Interestingly, the photo of the painting was a bit shady and blurry in parts and created a kind of vignette around the edges, making it look a lot more mysterious and dark than the original.
I do sometimes have qualms about painting landscapes or at least I think about it a lot, just because it is seemingly too easy, but I try to ignore that nagging at me and just enjoy the process of making them and looking at them afterwards as fragments of memories. I have a very small and lightweight setup that I can take with me everywhere and doesn’t encumber me when hiking. I often have to think of how Hockney has his car built out with shelves in the back for drying his canvases when he paints his trees outside. I liked that idea, but that would be too complicated for me as I want to keep moving. So I have paper, which is light and I can roll or fold it and lay it out on the grass or rocks and a small watercolour box.
Due to the vastness, when I paint on site, the shapes remain very clear and depict mere outlines, with not a lot of detail. This is also the reason why I choose singular colours. Choosing between black and colour is an endless fight though. Usually, after having finished a painting, I am not happy, but when I get back home and unpack them, they have acquired more depth. This is probably because whilst painting, the grandeur of the mountains competes too much. They transport a kind of magic for me. I am not sure what they do to others. In comparison to what I usually do, they are single-layered. It is what it is and that is quite refreshing.
I understand well that the works won’t function for you until you have reached a certain distance to the mountains. The works accurately capture the majestic atmosphere surrounding the mountains. This leads us to the connection between beauty and the forces of nature of which we have spoken about before, when you told me about the experiences you made at the erupting volcanoes. Your paintings transport the wilderness with their promptness and the sublime of the mountains with their monochromaticity.
Anna McCarthy, Montserrat (Esther), 2019, risograph, 30 × 40 cm, edition: 10
Anna McCarthy, Montserrat (Gravestone), 2019, silkscreen and foil printing, framed, 30 × 40 cm, edition: 10
Anna McCarthy, Chorillo del Salto, 2019, risograph, 42 × 30 cm, edition: 10
These are memories of climbing experiences, a collage-like drawing of memories, painted in the studio. They are framed in white plaster cast to make them look like they are placed in a neo-cave chapel. Putting many things and thoughts on one page. This is just how my memory works and makes the most sense to depict it in this way. They are often compared to wimmelpictures. I wasn’t purposefully trying to create wimmelpictures, but in the end it fits into my other narrative framework and I have always had an admiration for Hieronymus Bosch. I hate the word “wimmelpicture” though.
Anna McCarthy, Hüttenbesetzer, 2020, indian ink, crayon and pencil on paper, framed, acrylic on glass, 70 × 50 cm
Anna McCarthy, Swallows Fly On High, 2020, pencil and acrylic on paper, framed, acrylic on glass, 70 × 50 cm
She is an angel, she leads the way, but men still look up her skirt when she climbs.
Anna McCarthy, Angel Alpinista, 2020, plaster, wood, acrylic, oyster shells, mixed media, 165 × 40 × 43 cm
Left-over oysters from a wealthy banquet became a nice skeleton to protect me inside and out. The oysters represent the fossils contained in the mountains. Climbing, you come across these shells embedded in the rock from time to time and they remind you of how landscapes change and are continually in motion. And on the Wendelstein there is a plaque that says “Munich was once a lagoon”. A glamorous idea.
Anna McCarthy, Endo/Exoskeleton, 2020, oyster shells on metal
200 × 85 cm
Is this an Eames house?There used to be a lot of junk on this, but it cleaned up nicely.Fence on the mountain caught the trash carried into it by the breeze.
Anna McCarthy, Neocave, 2020, mixed media, dimensions variable
Anna McCarthy, Oyster Tennis, 2020, mixed media, 70 × 60 × 25 cm
What is this? glitzy glamorous decadent jewellery or the chains to the old swede.
Anna McCarthy, Rusty Chain I and Rusty Chain II, 2020, Rust on metal and plastic, 96 × 46 cm and 105 × 46 cm
“Die Pest” by Camus lies on the table, whilst the dog watches me surrounded by plants. Sun is shining bright. It was a beautiful day on my balcony. Odie has now been dead a year.
Anna McCarthy, Odie Baldony, 2019, water colour on paper
There is an ambivalence, which I understand very well. The idyll on the balcony is disrupted by the death of the dog. The plague arrived at exactly the moment you wanted to surrender yourself to a certain bourgeois way of life. Mountaineering confronts you with high-tech clothing and green consumerism. For me, your works on sports carry within an incredible conflict. They are charged with feelings of guilt.
Anna McCarthy, New Sports Watch, 2020, mixed media, plastic, 200 × 40 cm
I do reflect on these things, I don’t really see how you cannot. I criticize sport in that it can be seen as a symbol of luxury, but I also see it as something that is just movement and is good for mind and body, in any case.
I am naturally drawn towards pessimism.
Anna McCarthy, Eureka, 2020, pencil and water colour on paper, framed, acrylic on glass, 70 × 50 cm
I am quite naturally a two-faced pessimist and optimist, in a melodramatic way. I am fatally attracted to the hermaphrodite, the angel and the devil on the shoulder, the yin and the yang, split personalities, or the good old smiling and frowning faces of ancient Greek drama just as Google tells me: “paired together to show the two extremes of the human psyche”.
Returning to one of your first questions of “How many Anna McCarthys are there?” I suppose, I would answer: At least two.
Of course I cannot speak to you from the future, I would be a supernatural being, which would actually be quite nice. But, were I from the future, I could tell you that your art endured and is still relevant today. In the future, female crises and self-doubt won’t be interpreted as weakness, but as expressions of their genius or geniae (hahaha…). Or, maybe weaknesses are simply accepted as a strength themselves, which they are. While I look back on our conversation, here, from the future, the universal relevance of your themes, your work, become tangible. What are people for, Anna McCarthy?ANNA
Lie ‘em on the floor, put ‘em in store, hang ‘em on the wall....♫
Anna McCarthy, People-killing Pizza Machine, 2017, mixed media, variable dimensions
Konzert mit WHAT ARE PEOPLE FOR, WE WON'T SHUT UP! Internationaler Frauentag München 07.-13.03.2021