Anna - Sophie Berger


Matter FAVU

art & fashion / Vienna


Quantum phy­s­i­cist David Deutsch descri­bes the “fab­ric of rea­li­ty” as a com­posi­ti­on of paral­lel rea­li­ties. Anna-​Sophie Berger’s paral­lel rea­li­ties inclu­de being a mul­ti­me­dia artist, fashi­on designer, and pho­to­gra­pher. Like many of her con­tem­po­ra­ries, her work has been descri­bed as a “medi­a­ted noma­dism.” While still a stu­dent at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, she began enga­ging in art and fashi­on using Internet images. Her gra­dua­te collecti­on “Fashion Is Fast” dealt with fashi­on, gar­ments, body relati­on­ships, and web­si­te sociology.

ANNABEL FERNANDES — In addi­ti­on to your fashi­on stu­dies, you’ve stu­died Transmedia Art in Vienna. Has this had an impact on your practice?
ANNA-​SOPHIE BERGER — I stu­died with Brigitte Kowanz, who­se Transmedia Art class was like a think tank. Brigitte was the first autho­ri­ty from the fine arts to encou­rage me and to help me under­stand that my work was both art and fashi­on and that I didn’t have to repac­kage it for com­mer­ce or make it rea­da­ble for peo­ple in fine art. In the class I deve­lo­ped a per­for­man­ce called Modeanweisung [fashi­on instructi­ons]. It was staged with ordi­na­ry peo­ple in ordi­na­ry clo­thes. Later I com­bi­ned it with fashi­on. For my diplo­ma I mer­ged per­for­man­ce and gar­ments into one cohe­rent piece.

ANNABEL FERNANDES — How did you beco­me an artist?
ANNA-​SOPHIE BERGER — A year befo­re gra­dua­ting, I had my first show at JTT Gallery in New York City. It was a show orga­ni­zed by Zak Kitnick, a New York-​based artist who’d found my work onli­ne — which is curi­ous enou­gh, but hap­pe­ning more and more. We star­ted com­mu­ni­ca­ting, and finally he asked me to be part of the show in New York. It was very impor­tant because it encou­raged me, even for my diplo­ma, to go all out with my con­cep­tu­al ide­as. Then came my diplo­ma. From that expe­ri­en­ce I lear­ned that it wasn’t so impor­tant whe­ther I was an artist or a designer; more impor­tant was the appro­ach as a transme­dia practi­ce. If I design a shoe, it’s a con­cep­tu­al pro­cess. One can argue whe­ther it’s fashi­on or art, but that doesn’t make much dif­fe­ren­ce. It’s more about whe­re it will be pre­sen­ted and, of cour­se, the price.

ANNABEL FERNANDES — At the JTT Gallery exhi­bi­ti­on, you showed the same thing in three dif­fe­rent forms: pho­to­gra­phi­cally, as an art pie­ce, and as a fashi­on object. Will it still be wearable?
ANNA-​SOPHIE BERGER — Being wea­ra­ble or not doesn’t deter­mi­ne if it’s fashi­on or art. It can be both. It’s a dif­ficult dis­cus­si­on, and one that I have about once a week. The only real dis­tincti­on is the mar­ket. How many of tho­se will I be pro­du­cing? Am I aiming to dis­tri­bu­te them on a lar­ge sca­le? Will the­re be a com­mer­cial pro­ducti­on? Art Dealer Margaret Lee bou­ght one of my fra­med pho­to­gra­phic prints and a pie­ce, a dress, which she wore to the Frieze Art Fair in New York. In the press rele­a­se Zak wro­te very ear­ly on, befo­re I could even put any­thing into words, he descri­bed my work as being noma­dic via sites. That bet­ter descri­bes what I’m doing than the ques­ti­on of whe­ther I’m a designer or an artist. Margaret Lee found the con­text and idea inte­res­ting, and wore the dress to the fair, then was style-​blogged, which in itself shows how clo­se the two are. Despite the­ir dis­tinct dif­fe­ren­ces, this happened.

ANNABEL FERNANDES — You’re sel­ling Fashion Is Fast t‑shirts onli­ne. How did that come about?
ANNA-​SOPHIE BERGER — I made the t‑shirt for my team, an over­sty­li­zed crowd. I liked the idea of estab­lishing one high­ly com­mer­cial pro­ject. It was exact­ly when I was thin­king about what to do with the immen­se press respon­se to my collecti­on, and the fact that peo­ple are emai­ling me to stock this collecti­on. I didn’t have the means. I was con­fused, but also inte­res­ted in the con­cept of a che­ap com­mer­cial pro­duct that has no other fea­tu­re than my name and the catch­phra­se Fashion Is Fast, which refers to my body of work. I really like it. I’m not afraid to tac­kle com­mer­cial con­cepts. I think it’s sub­ver­si­ve to the idea of bran­ding that some­o­ne who bare­ly knows me would look at my web­si­te or Tumblr and pur­cha­se an item with my name on it.

ANNABEL FERNANDES — Douglas Coupland has writ­ten about the “Diamond Generation” and the “89plus” con­s­ci­ousness of the Internet and Tumblr. You were born in 1989.
ANNA-​SOPHIE BERGER — Yes. I went to the 89plus Serpentine Marathon! It was gre­at. That was whe­re I belon­ged. All the rules about which cogni­ti­ve art form you do are less impor­tant. There are new rules. I’m an Internet child.

ANNABEL FERNANDES — How did the Condoleezza Rice and Angela Merkel scarfs from your Fashion Is Fast collecti­on come about?
ANNA-​SOPHIE BERGER — Researching on the Internet 247, I got inte­res­ted in well-​known figu­res, which led me to a fashi­on con­ver­sati­on about Angela Merkel, who’s con­si­de­red horri­bly unfa­shi­o­na­ble. I was very attrac­ted to and inte­res­ted in her poli­tics. So I cre­a­ted a suit that mirro­red details of her war­dro­be. Then I nee­ded ano­ther fema­le poli­ti­ci­an to coun­ter­act her. I star­ted with Hillary Clinton, who was too simi­lar, Yulia Tymoshenko, who wasn’t enou­gh con­trast, and ended up with Condoleezza Rice, because the­re was a lot about her: get­ting up at 5am, lean, wor­king out, strict. I jux­ta­po­sed the two in suits that had very dif­fe­rent pat­terns. I made the fan scarfs. I thou­ght it would be nice to cari­ca­tu­re poli­ti­ci­ans who weren’t media hero­es. Some reacti­ons from the US invol­ved a ques­ti­on of race. To me, Condoleezza was sim­ply an African-​American poli­ti­ci­an. I was inte­res­ted in images of fema­le power in the pub­lic domain.

ANNABEL FERNANDES — Can you also tell us about your pro­ject Ohne Ohne?
ANNA-​SOPHIE BERGER — Together with my fri­end Katarina Šoškic, and back then with Roshi Porkar, we deve­lo­ped the web­si­te Ohne Ohne, mea­ning “Without Without.” We wan­ted to imple­ment a bre­ak with the habit of the onli­ne con­su­mer who sim­ply scrolls quick­ly throu­gh con­tent. The first step is you give some­thing, wha­te­ver you want. But we urge giving away some­thing befo­re con­su­ming. Then you arri­ve at a selecti­on from all the user uplo­ads. It’s like a record of the given inte­rests of tho­se users, which chan­ges eve­ry time you relo­ad it, so eve­ry time you see dif­fe­rent com­bi­nati­ons of com­ple­te­ly ran­dom con­tent. Right now we are wor­king on the next level of the website.We are ente­ring the vir­tu­al sta­te of edi­ting and the new sur­fa­ce for that will go onli­ne soon. This digi­tal edi­ting pro­cess will be once aga­in defi­ned by the users and lead to the prin­ted publication.

ANNABEL FERNANDES — So do you see your­self as an artist?
ANNA-​SOPHIE BERGER — Yes. My works are sold and per­ce­i­ved in an art con­text. Ideas are the most impor­tant for me, and this seems to be more fit­ting in the art con­text. If that comes at a higher pri­ce ran­ge with less acces­si­bi­li­ty, then I’ll take that risk in order to defi­ne my own pace of work.