Another bottle of champagne has been popped! Now Rosie Kavanavoch gets to ask artist Holly-Anne Buck a few questions about her inspirations from daily absurdities and cultural obsessions, to her past experiences in her audio-visual band Mink Engine (w/Adam Milburn). You can see her latest works in HYSTERIA at The Vestibule in London until November 2nd.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: What’s your “ism” all about?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: There was point living in London last year when I spotted a giant fried egg running down the street followed closely by a man running behind him with giant egg scoop. As I walked back to my studio I picked up a flyer for a club night called I GOT F*CKED AT YOUR MUMS HOUSE. And I thought…
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: We DO live in such a time!?!
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: AHA! Yes! Just another day in Shoreditch! And we’re living in a time of #lookatme&what-I-done, share it, share everything, over-share just coz you can, share it if you can bear it, sharing is caring… I see this insane overload of information like a giant collage – so I created Collagism in response to this. I put two words together: collage – which is the medium I work in – and ism that is commonly used in art to describe a movement. I thought it was quite funny to make up a name that might be confused for an art movement that’s actually just one person. Lol.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: I remember the first time I saw that I got fuck*d at your mums house flyer. I had such a laugh. Are you having a laugh?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: Always! My recent Vogue cover collage Full English Kate is a prime example.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: A one eyed fried sex icon as a staple breakfast fry up….?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: She is fashion heroin, a national treasure and the meal of a nation.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: There’s bacon in her hair..
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: A meal in her eyes…
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: ….I love her new purple face….
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: She’s less fatty than a fry up – she’s purple like chocolate packaging, because of her sweetness. By diverting the codes of consumption, fashion becomes a decadent dining experience for the digital age!
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: Yum! Kate “Algebra” Moss! How and where did this love of collage begin?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: I was a RAVER! Still am! It was the beginning of my exploration into the relationship between sound and pictures. I love the instantaneous nature of collage.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: Rearranging the universe?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: Rearranging the universe to MY LIKING. You feel like God, Lady God. I love the idea that the world as we know it can be changed through my fingertips. By weaving my own mode of surrealism with the power of Collagism, I am rethinking of what the world has to offer.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: Pioneering the epitome of the art of found objects in todays culture?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: Objects of today’s culture woven into a lovesong. The rainbow lit club inside the forever-happiness-hologram. Landscapes of eggs and legs, a box full of wriggling fingers, the fluorescent sun setting over the ocean. It’s the window licking beauty of surprise. A daft punk like me – a banquet of you.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: Montage on Collage! Have you ever jumped out of a collage? Do you have a genesis Lady God?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: Back in my audiovisual days with my band Mink Engine I jumped out of a lot of things on stage. A forest of talking bananas and many video walls.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: Mink Engine? Is this where you came from?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: Mink Engine was my longterm creative project with partner Askii aka Adam Milburn. A techno-coloured lovechild in the form of an audio visual band. Born in 2002, in an 8-mat tatami room in the colourful streets of Harajuku. We burst onto the Japanese scene with headline gigs at Shibuya’s infamous Fashionista club Vanity run by the fabulous Paul James. It was the dawn of Electroclash (thanks Larry Tee) and host to acts like Peaches, DFA, The Raputure and us. We got known as ‘The broken glass dancefloor’ as the crazy kids literally would start smashing their champagne glasses as we began to play, they totally lost control. It was an exciting time to be living and making art in Tokyo. That led us onto to London to play at Nag Nag Nag, a night that went down in history sadly due to the London Bombings. We became famous as we literally were walking through London high on pils dodging bombs. Luck was on our side, thank fully! Crazy stuff just kept happening like looking across the dancefloor and seeing Felix da Housecat and his entourage dancing on a Saturday Night Fever dancefloor to our set. We played festival after festival, toured the world, released music, videos, a DVD, and made a lot of fabulous friends along the way. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: Do you still jump out of bananas?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: (Laughs) I’ve taken up bin diving. East London is a treasure trove of trash! High-density living means no wheelie bins, so people put their straight on the street. The council and I both have our own allocated collection times, wink-wink, nudge-nudge. I only bin dive in heels.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: I’m sure you do!! A pick-n-mix sport shared with you and the council?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: Yes! At allocated times of the day the council come by and collect it. It’s a fascinating sport to see what people are consuming – you can learn a lot about your neighbours. It is a great place for me to gather materials and a plethora of things for my collage that I don’t set out to find. It’s such a cost effective medium. Practicing the art of up-cycling, literally turning everyday trash into creative treasures. And I love the notion that using a current sampling of materials makes a collage of a time capsule of sorts.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: Being a Collagist in London sounds rad. How has London helped/hindered your career?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: London is wild, an ever changing beast – as an artist it has allowed me to flourish in ways I didn’t imagine. I attended a workshop with Thomas Hirschhorn at The Hayward Gallery a few months after moving to London. He’s an artist who works in grande scale using collaged political images with a bit of porn thrown in: cocks, tits, lips, full mu-cha-cha, all scribbled on with a bit of biro or blue sharpie – mostly sticking anything and everything together using masking tape and gaffa. Someone said he’s the Damien Hirst of Switzerland, but I’d say he makes better art. Haha… I mean Sorry Damo, I am rather hot for collage and tape! As you know Rosie! Anyway to spend 2 days with him was pivotal. He critiqued my work and questioned my motives behind it.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: He pressed your buttons ?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: YES. He told me if I ever wanted to be taken seriously, I had to find my obsession, and be willing to die for it. He also picked up on some themes in my work that I’ve ditched and others that have really driven me over the past year.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: WOW! Is there a creative obsession, a particular character/essence within your work?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: This is a portrait of a lady you see everywhere – she is my constant resurrection, my muse, she is always at my fingertips. She has many faces and many forms. Do you recognize her?
She is a lover, a fighter, a beauty, a beast, a manifestation of your imaginings. She is the ruler of hearts, the breaker of many, she is everything at once – a shape-shifter – her potential is limitless. I have an obsession with making her over and over.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: We all know her! She’s an absolute chameleon isn’t she, where valuable discoveries await?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: I am interested in creating unreal worlds of impossible beauty. I predominately make collage using images found in high fashion magazines and books. I am playing with feminist beauty myths by elevating the images to their natural conclusion – taking something that doesn’t exist and pushing it over the edge. Celebrating beauty, transposing elements and giving them a different and new weight.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH:You recently pasted your interpretation of a Vogue cover on the streets of East London, with FREE PUSSY RIOT emblazoned in giant VOGUE type. Do you think it’s your responsibility as an artist to provoke a reaction in people?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: I feel passionate about women and our role in society – personally I feel an obligation to stand up and start a dialogue about this. Recently I felt a great injustice to women and freedom of speech when Pussy Riot were jailed in Russia for their song urging Mother Mary to save them from President Putin. Timing wise, it was the dawn of Vogue’s September Issue – and I was angry that such powerful magazine for women said nothing about the Pussy Riot arrests.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Vogue and I have a shelf full of them. The pages are devoted to women and loads of really smart, headstrong women are on those pages, however I really thought something needed to be done here. Surely the women featured in Vogue and a lot its readers would agree that the three women who have been jailed in Russia was an act of injustice.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: Exactly what did you do?
Holly-Anne Buck – I cut up the September issue and remade my own Vogue cover with arms and limbs breaking and contorting over the page, in support of Pussy Riot. I emailed Vogue many times about it but they never responded…
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: You wrote to Vogue?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: I did. I emailed and facebooked and twittered. I got no response so I decided to put them over east London. I printed the art A0 poster size, hand-painted them, collaged each one with different faces, glittered their masks and went what is now known as Spiderchav-ing! You know the Spiderchavs don’t you Rosie?!
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: Yeah, they are close friends of mine. Interesting you bring this up though, Madonna toured Moscow during their trial with the words FREE PUSSY RIOT on her back during her shows, which apparently really rocketed the world and the situation. So, I say Go Madonna, Boo Vogue. But your version changed all that…
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: Putting the message on the street places it out there to a large audience in London and the world. I certainly hope it helps to get a few people thinking.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: I really like Spiderchavs and I really like that piece, you totally nailed it. Has there been much of a response?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: Yes, there has! Things have been popping up on the net and also print requests, which is always very encouraging!
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: That’s brilliant news! What projects have you been working on in 2013?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: Non-stop art production! I began the year with a show at Anna Pappas Gallery in Melbourne, Australia. I have shown work in shows in Berlin, London, Australia and an art fair in Athens! Taken a 6 month lease on a space in Redchurch Street in London and have been doing a show a month…6 installations evolving in front of the eyes of the world at The Vestibule. Phew… It’s been a busy year, with more to come! New York, New York… 2014?
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: Very exciting stuff Holly-Anne. What do you do when you’re not making art? When was the last time you had a night out and what did you do?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: The last time I went out I reconstructed a construction site at night – more Spiderchavving!! I enjoy going out and meeting the fabulous people of London…
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: Like Jeremy Deller ? You met him too didn’t you? Tell me about this? Did you get along?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: We argued over the history of rave culture. Funny stuff, I not only had my foot in my mouth, but possibly my whole leg as well. I also admitted to him that I nicked his Bless this Acid House art off the internet and am using it as my desktop graphic (still am). Feeling mildly guilty about this, I trekked to the Hayward on a cold night – dragging you with me – so I could buy the poster version he mentioned was available for only £5. I wanted to put things right and keep my art karma points in the positive position. Unfortunately they were out of stock! Need to get rich quick so I can afford to buy his Bouncy Stonehenge instead.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: I feel like one of us should say thank you.
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: Thank you.
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: NO, thank you!!!
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: Don’t shake my devotion
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: (Laughs) – What would a Spiderchav do at the end of an interview?
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: What’s a Spiderchav?
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: It’s a verb. It’s a do. Its YOU!
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: Like a bitch out of order
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: Like a bat out of hell
HOLLY-ANNE BUCK: Like a fish out of water
ROSIE KAVANAVOCH: I’m scared, can’t you tell….
Dedicated to the members of Pussy Riot, imprisoned in Moscow, Russia! FREE PUSSY RIOT!