in Interviews | 01 NOV 08
Featured in
Issue 119

Annika Ström

What do you like the look of? My son’s beauty sleep

in Interviews | 01 NOV 08

Cecilia Wendt, Untitled (1993)

What images keep you company in the space where you work?

A newspaper clipping of a massive circus elephant with pink feathers on its head.

What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you?

It was really a kind of performance: the fact that Hilma af Klint hid her pictures for 40 years. When I was in my early 20s I visited Helsinki, and they were just about to open the crates and reveal her work. Since then I like art that deals with history and time perspectives.

If you could live with only one piece of art what would it be?

I have it already: Cecilia Wendt’s untitled screen prints from 1993 of her mother bowing in white underwear in her bedroom.

What is your favourite title of an art work?

I normally don’t like swear words, but this made me laugh: Fuck the Bauhaus: New Buildings for New York (2000) by Isa Genzken.

What do you wish you knew?

More art history and when to shut up in sensitive situations – for example, when my work might be sold.

What should change?

The ongoing resistance of art museums to buying art made by women. Also, I would like to see more big solo shows by women before they’re dead, and 90 percent less admission for women to art schools, as I am sick of teaching them while knowing they probably won’t have their work displayed in any big museums or bought for major collections. Obviously women at art schools are a waste of taxpayers’ money.

What should stay the same?

The low percentage of artists having plastic surgery. Also, I used to do karate, and my teacher let me graduate, despite my rubbish technique, because of my so-called ‘fighting spirit’. So, my fighting spirit.

What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?

Helping poor people in developing countries.

What music are you listening to?

Sufjan Stevens, Bettie Serveert, Kaki King, Little Wings, Element of Crime, M. Ward, Jenny Wilson, Bonnie Prince Billy, Electrelane, Anna Ternheim, Gal Costa, Michaela Melián, Monica Zetterlund and Swedish left-wing music from the 1970s. I also like Swedish singer Nina Ramsby playing with Martin Hedefors. When I listen to her, I pretend I don’t understand Swedish as her lyrics are so silly, but she has a wonderful voice. And I just bought a record by the lovely soft pop minimal singer Lykke Li.

What are you reading?

A great book about China by the Mongolian/Romanian/Swedish journalist Ola Wong, No, I’m from Borås (2007), and Jon Lee Anderson’s biography Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life (1997), which is very entertaining and full of sweet, nonsensical details that no one needs to know about a revolutionary.

What is art for?

For my son and the next generation – the future will understand. Thank you!

After 12 years in Berlin, Swedish artist Annika Ström now lives in Hove, UK. Her new monograph annika ström live!, edited by Christophe Boutin and published by Fälth & Hässler and onestar press, is out now. She has recently had solo shows at c/o Atle Gerhardsen, Berlin, and Uddevalla Konsthall, Sweden and her exhibition at Lautom Contemporary, Oslo, runs until 7 December. Her work is also included in the group shows ‘Intimacy’ at ACCA, Melbourne, until 30 November, and ‘Sonic Voices, Rocking Hard’, at the Netherlands Media Art Institute, Amsterdam, until 2 November. She is currently working on her first feature-length script.