Interview with Anastasia Klose

Anastasia Klose, Vernissage of the 54th Venice Biennale

What are you hoping to achieve out of Venice?
I am staging another ‘Film for my Nanna’ style performance, 5 years on from the original. I will be wearing a wedding dress, with a sign around my neck saying ‘Nanna, I am still searching…’ in English, and Italian.

Venice is a wonderful location for this performance; the city is named after Venus, the goddess of love. It is also one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Casanova lived in Venice, so too did Byron and Thomas Mann. Due to these historical figures, and the city’s physical beauty and decay, Venice’s grand themes are love and mortality. I want to exploit these themes and bring them together in my performance – but in a beautiful way.

What am I hoping to achieve from the performance ? The unexpected. You can’t really anticipate people’s responses to a performance, particularly in a strange city. Something always happens though, when a performance takes place in public – and this makes it both fun and scary. Honestly, the moments during performance that make me happiest are those in which I feel a sense of connection with the audience – as if an understanding has passed between us. This is not guaranteed to happen though, and that in it self is interesting, and certainly not a sign of failure. I view every performance as open ended: there are no failed performances, only a failure to learn from what you have done.

Have you been to the Venice Biennale or Vernissage before?

What is the subject of your practice?
My practice is about finding an aesthetic to express different emotional states such as loneliness, misery, hope, joy and boredom.

How do you think your work will translate to an international audience?
I am hoping to harness the power of the wedding dress, and use it to overcome any language/cultural barriers.

What preparations have you had to make for going to Venice?
When I went wedding dress shopping, I spontaneously invented a mythical fiancé called Sandro (Botticelli) to help smooth the way when talking to the shop assistants. (FYI Sandro works at a university in Milan and teaches architecture.) I think the women in the wedding shops smelled a rat when I told them the wedding was only one month away. Apparently, the dedicated bride starts dress shopping years in advance. One shop assistant was also a bit flummoxed when I told her I didn’t know what a bridal party was.

Of the artists exhibiting from other countries, who would you most like to meet and why?
Thomas Hirschhorn. I like his work.

Why this particular project for Venice?
The context is quite specific. I will be performing in a very, very crowded city. I thought very hard about what sort of performance might work. I knew the performance had to be something simple, something that would stand out, and something that ‘makes sense’ to passers by. A sort of re-staging of the ‘Film for my Nanna’ performance seemed the best idea.
My mother, Elizabeth Presa, is also accompanying me on this trip, and will be videoing me as I perform, as she did with ‘Film for my Nanna’.
When I discuss this project with Mum, we both agree that the performance in Venice really symbolizes a marriage between myself and art. I am having my dream wedding, and really, no groom is needed.

This project has a performative aspect, how does it link to your other work?
Performance has been an important part of my practice since 2004. I have done a number of video-ed and live performances. I like performance because it’s so immediate, and you never know how it will go. I always hope to discover something new about myself or people in general from doing them.

After art, what else will be your priority to do before leaving Venice?
Finding a nice little bar where I can relax out of costume. And of course, seeing the work at the Venice Biennale.


Selected exhibitions:
The Poverty Show, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne (2010), I thought I was wrong, but it turned out I was wrong…, Australian Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide (2010), Art in the 21st Century – the First Decade, Gallery of Modern Art, (2010), Mortality, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2010), TWMA Contemporary, TarraWarra Museum, Victoria (2010), Gestures and Procedures, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2010), Feminism Never Happened, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2010), Why we do the things we do, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, Perth (2009), The Happy Artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne (2008), Revolutions: Forms that Turn, 16th Biennale of Sydney (2008), Melbourne Operatic, Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Pakuranga, Auckland, New Zealand (2007), New 07, Australian Centre of Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2007), Thanks Duchamp!! Cite International Des Arts Gallery, Paris (2007), Work in Progress, Nextwave Festival, Melbourne (2004).