Interviewing Artist - Anya Bliss
Anya Bliss is a young, British Artist who is interested in drawing attention towards injustices and problems faced by minority groups like social and political Otherness.
"I identify as an intersectional feminist artist, which is significant when discussing Otherness, as it recognises issues, overlooked by typical feminism, like oppression experienced by people due to their race, disabilities, gender, and sexuality. Within the subject of Otherness, I specifically explore topics such as privilege and oppression, subjectivity and identity, patriarchal views, over-sexualisation, and heteronormativity. I work within these themes because I believe it’s important to highlight inequalities".
Interview between Artistsofmeraki and Anya Bliss:
AoM: What does it mean to you to be a feminist?
AB: A feminist is someone that believes all people are equal and does not make assumptions or treat people differently based on their race, gender identity, sexuality, appearance, age, religious beliefs, culture, or their ability / disability. For example, one can not be a feminist and a racist. Some feminists actively campaign for human and equal rights.
AoM: You seem to use a variety of mediums in your practice, how do you choose the medium and the materials for your work and would you say you have a favourite?
AB: When I first start a project, I work quite automatically, using different materials, then, as the piece develops, I begin to make decisions on what materials work best for conveying the message. I also find it important to consider the wider cultural and historical contexts of materials as these influence the meaning dramatically. Similarly, this is how I also choose which medium to work in. My favourite mediums are sculpture and installation as I enjoy the more hands-on making process, and the way the works change the space they are exhibited in.
AoM: In your Installation 'Don't Touch me' and other works of yours, the style of art can be seen as abject and uneasy on the eye, what do you intend for the viewer to feel when immersed in the work?
AB: I like to include aspects of abject or grotesque imagery or features as I find that it’s a successful tool for catching and drawing the viewers attention. I want them to feel a sense of uncanny discomfort as people have become numb to some of the issues discussed. For example, ‘Don’t Touch Me’ focuses on consent, trauma and the impact of rape culture, therefore, I used the abject yet intimate close-ups of rolls of skin and body hair to cause the viewer to feel the rightful unease about rape culture while also being confronted by the lonely intimacy of the shower scene and the way the audio is played to individuals through headphones. It’s impactful.
Images from Anya's Installation 'Don't Touch Me' (2018)
AoM: In your recent work, ‘The Most Dangerous Man Alive' it includes images of both men and women, what is the reasoning behind the people in your work, and the labelling of them as a 'man'.?
AB: I created ‘The Most Dangerous Man Alive’ to start a discussion on the lack of respect, homophobia, and transphobia, experienced by the LGBTQ community, from political leaders. The title is a reference to Hitler where he said that Magnus Hirschfeld (one of the LGBT figures featured in my tapestry for his important contributions to science) was “the most dangerous jew in Germany”, due to him being a gay, Jewish, and the founder of the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee that advocated for homosexual and transgender rights. I’m basically trying to show that Hitler was a homophobe and he had a big Nazi following at the time who thought he was great …we now know that Hitler was actually the dangerous one. So, I am making that comparison between political leaders homophobia now, and their followers turning a blind eye to it, to Hitler and Nazis. I like using these extreme references to make the viewers think, and question why this kind of thing is allowed.
The Most Dangerous Man Alive (2020) Synthetic Felt, Canvas, Chenille, Heavyweight Calico Cotton, Copic Ink, Water Mixable Oil Colour, Acrylic Paint, Glitter, Water-based Block Printing Ink, Water-based Screen Printing Ink, Textile Medium, Polyester Embroidery Thread,Cotton Stitch Thread. 300cm x 600cm
AoM: What are you future career plans as an artist?
AB: I’ve just completed my BA Fine Art degree and planned to spend a year doing a couple of residencies, exploring my practice, and working in a local gallery, before going on to study a Masters in Fine Art at Chelsea (UAL). However, that’s all going differently now with the pandemic so I’m spending a lot more time thinking about the digital side of the art world and the accessibility of online exhibitions. As for the long term plan, I am going to continue making more protest pieces while keeping my mind open to see where everything takes me.
Follow Anya on Instagram