Caroline Achaintre on Arcademi

The biggest reason why we love our Q&A column: because it lets us heap mountains of credit onto blogs like Arcademi — the source of more “holy shit” moments than almost any other site — while giving us good reason to borrow their content. Namely, the opportunity to hear their subjects wax poetic about things like hairy tufting and multiple personalities, like today’s subject, Caroline Achaintre. We were lucky enough to convince Arcademi editor Moritz Firchow to interview the London-based artist, who trained as a blacksmith before finding her way to a multidisciplinary practice inspired by the way German expressionism, post-war British sculpture, and Primitivism merge influences from both ancient and modern culture. His Q+A is published below. Thanks, Moritz!

You seem fascinated by faces and disguise. Is there any particular reason?
“I’m interested in co-existences — multiple personalities within a being — and in any kind of mask or disguise and its combination of the visor and its bearer.”

You’re using quite a broad range of materials, including watercolors, textiles, leather, and ceramics. At what point of an idea do you decide how to express it, and what is it you love about those varied ingredients?
“Watercolors and ceramics I love for the spontaneity inherent in their use, and also for their ability to reflect the process in the final result. I work in cycles: I’ll work on the ceramic works for weeks without interruption, then on the tufted work and the watercolor drawings. The tufted work I like for its intensity, and for the simultaneous seduction and repulsion of tufted objects, which can be very wooly or hairy. Ceramics, especially in combination with leather, I like for their ambiguity, luring, and ability to be easily charged. Ideally I like to capture an in-between condition between solid and liquid — something that looks viscous, as if it would still have the ability to transform.”

You were born in France, raised in Germany, and currently live and work in London. How did these places impact your work?
“Not in an obvious way. In 1998 I came to London, as I was interested in the contemporary art coming from there. I also have a strong interest in German expressionism, but I’m not sure if that’s because I was raised there. I was only born in France and have French family, but I never really lived there, though I admire their way of living. But speaking of multiple personalities, I do quite like sitting in between chairs, not easily classified.”

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