Anna Bochkova: “I always knew I will be an
artist; art was and is my way of communication with
the world around.”


Di Marco Crispano

How and why did you start your artistic career?


I always knew I will be an artist; art was and is my way of communication with the world around. After school I studied art in my native city and later on I continued with stage design in Moscow. However, I have noticed that stage design is not exactly what I needed, so I quitted these studies and came to Vienna to start studying sculpture in class of Heimo Zobernig in Academy of fine Arts. This was an amazing time of learning practical and theoretical subjects and exchanging with my colleagues. During my studies there I did Erasmus (Exchange Programme) in HFBK Hamburg . This art school has a ceramic workshop and there I started my first experiments with this material. After finishing Academy in Vienna, I came to Hamburg to do Master degree in sculpture in order to deepen my ceramic practice. Parallel to my education I was actively developing my exhibition practice.


How did you discover your medium and why did you choose it?


My main mediums now are s culpture and drawing . In sculpture I mostly work with ceramics, papier-mâché, textile, plaster and cardboard. I value the accessibility and warmth of these materials as well as most of them are connected with my personal history. For example, my great-grandmother was a sewer, and I was allowed to play with rests of the fabric she had . This fabric had early soviet patterns inspired by early avantgarde, for example zeppelins instead of ‘ bourgeois ’ flowers . She also taught me how to sew on her old sewer machine. Each time I connect with these materials I also connect with sentiments and memories they carry for me. As I worked in theatre later on many objects were produced in papier-mâché. For a long time I tried to avoid working with such decorative material until I have realized that it carries a huge utopian potential and quality . Papier-mâché is always not what it seems – and it is somehow formed lie. Considering ceramics, I really love how much earthy characteristics it has. It is a very intuitive material and having my own ideas sometimes I feel driven by it somewhere else and such coincidences I appreciate really a lot. I spent a lot of years of my life being close to the soil, especially in the area of steppe landscape, which is also very rich with clays, so somehow ceramics also give me a familiar feeling of home. In my drawings I focus on scenes presenting gestures of care performed by humans and non-human others in fictional world of “tomorrow”.


Can you talk about your creative process?


It is hard to separate the life and the creative process, I see my life as a creative process. I am in constant state of searching for new ways of expression and conceptual impulses. As a full time artist, I spend a lot of time in my studio, sketching, forming, developing new sculptures and drawings, it is a daily routine which seems a bit repetitive but actually this is exactly the time when the magic happens. However, a lot of time I also spend in front of my laptop reading and writing concepts down, which are sometimes growing into artist publications. To my creative process also belong communication and exchange with my colleagues and spending a lot of time in the nature.


How does your work come about?


Usually, I do a lot of sketches of forms and figures for my sculptures, then I start forming them in clay, papier-mâché or textile. Very often I work project based, so I have a certain concept what is going now currently in my artistic research.
Then having this conceptual base, I let the forms happen more intuitively. In ceramics one should be very flexible as the process often goes not as it was primary planned and there are many phases of production where something can go wrong.
Often, I work with installations consisting of many pieces, it has definitely something to do with the size of ceramic kiln. However, such work approach shows my own interest in fragments and how these fragments can facilitate a perception of the work from different perspectives.


How long does it take to create a work?


That really depends, but usually it takes some time. Even if a ceramic piece was formed within a day, it will last minimum a week until its finally fired. So, I usually prefer to have a vague plan for a couple of months to prepare a new project or work series, this helps me to be more centred while working and to go with the flow. The time I am not busy with ceramics I use for drawing and developing my other sculptural work.


When do you know it is finished?


When I did everything, I could. With years I have noticed that the distance between my first sketches and final results is getting closer and this is something I appreciate truly. What I am saying is, quite often the sketch has a quality of lightness and concen tration of the concept, sometimes while realizing such sketch a lot of things become differently: material reacts differently, dimensions are changing the quality of the work. Lately I have a feeling that I know materials I work with, I know the concept I am working on and that my idea gets to the viewer as fresh as I have imagined it some time ago.


Who are your favorite artists? Which ones are you inspired by?


Rachel Whiteread, Louise Bourgeois, Lee Bontecou, these female artists are the ones who come the first to my mind. I am also fascinated by orthodox medieval church painting, early Italian Renaissance and many artists of early modernism, especially of the Soviet avantgarde such as El Lissitzky, Varvara Stepanova, Vladimir Tatlin, Kasimir Malevich) I also find my inspiration in architecture, landscape and theory.


Name: Anna Bochkova
Residence: Hamburg
Profession: Sculptress