Anna Rokka is an artist that Sorbus has wanted to exhibit ever since the gallery started. She was born in Delsbo Sweden and has lived in Helsinki since 2006. We interviewed her through Gmail chat on 21. September, 2014.
Sorbus: You live in Helsinki, but we haven’t seen you for a while. Where have you been?
Anna Rokka: I came back from Rome this week. De-installed a work [the same one that is coming to Sorbus]. Before that I was teaching in the European Exchange Academy Beelitz in Germany. In August I was in Tammisaari at Proartibus residency and made a new work for Kräftskivan, a group exhibition at Elverket in Tammisaari which was curated by Juha-Heikki Tihinen. My work there is a site specific room installation called Kräftan. Last year I was in Jamaica where me and Rut Karin Zettergren filmed the first edition of our video installation Inna di Video Light that we showed this summer in Mänttä Art Festival.
S: What exhibition was it in Rome?
AR: It was called Shifting Identities, on new ways of approaching the identities in Finland and Estonia. It was in an old slaughterhouse of Macro Testaccio [part of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome].
S: What were you teaching in Germany?
AR: Hahaaa… attitude.
S: What kind of attitude?
AR: On art making. We did various exercises and experiments every day.
S: It suits you well to teach attitude to art students. What is anti-thinking (a word from Anna’s website)? Is that what you were teaching?
AR: You’re right, I hope something went through. For me anti-thinking is to stop my own flow, and try out things I don’t identify with. It’s difficult. It’s a good way to get new ideas. Hate and love are best friends you know.
S: What work is it that you’re going to show in Sorbus? What is it made of?
AR: It’s a parabolic antenna covered by the ocean. It’s made of wood, pvc (plastic board), roof materials, oysters, seaweed…
S: What kind of themes does the work include?
AR: The first time I showed the work it was titled: Mad Horizon. Now I changed the title to Deep talk – Spheres in Swiftness. For me it’s about unknown communication ways. We are living in a time when there are thousands of digital ways to communicate. Like now we are sharing thoughts online. But so many communication forms are denied/lost.
S: Like what for example?
AR: When you are countries apart from your family and some important information reaches you by dreams. Mind sync. I’m curious about what happens now when internet works globally. Will it help us understand strangers or how will it work? The parabolic antenna is more a symbol of communication with someone/something unknown…
S: But is this one not working anymore? Since there’s already seaweed on top of it. Is it from a time gone by?
AR: Don’t know. I don’t know how it works. Maybe it just has been resting for some time. Actually I don’t know where it’s coming from…
S: When did you start working with this idea?
AR: Topics grow slowly, I think this sculptural idea popped up some time before the ARCO art fair [Madrid]. In December 2013 I started building this work in collaboration with Sinne gallery. Markus Åström [from Sinne] wanted me to make a new work for the ARCO pavilion.
S: So you represented Sinne gallery in ARCO and after that the work has travelled to Rome, and now when it comes to Helsinki, you show it in Sorbus and not in Sinne. That’s nice. How do you think exhibiting this work in Helsinki and Sorbus differs from those previous places?
AR: I like the location and that the work can also be seen by night through the window.
S: Yes, let’s keep the lights on!
S: Is it different for yourself to show it in Helsinki where you live?
AR: Lets see 😉 I guess it is going to be fun.
S: Because your friends will see it?
AR: Exactly (30. September is my birthday btw.)
S: Which exhibition, movie, performance or concert has lately made an impact on you?
AR: Spice, a Jamaican dancehall artist is extremely inspiring.
S: Can you give a recommendation for music, film, literature or something related to your work in Sorbus?
AR: You could google Lençóis Maranhenses.
S: Are you working on something new at the moment?
AR: Yes, a sculpture related to speed and travel, a bigger sci-fi plastic installation, a collection of mad dancehall costumes for upcoming filming, and writing scenes for the final version of Inna di Video Light.
12th October at 2 pm
Welcome to Art Toffee on Sunday! Art Toffee (formerly known as Art Coffee) is an artist meeting and open discussion about the thoughts raised by the exhibition. This Sunday we discuss Anna Rokka’s installation Deep Talk – Spheres in Swiftness. Visual artists James Prevett and Sakari Tervo will join the discussion.