Woman Crush Wednesday: An Interview with Isabelle Wenzel
By: Riley Ryan-Wood
Can you elaborate on the motivation behind your wonderful “costume” choices?
I choose my costumes by color and texture. I often get inspired by what I find and react very intuitively about it. I do like to look for combinations which surprise myself. This results in photographs which I can’t imagine beforehand. So I certainly choose my costumes to create my own constructed reality.
In your photographs you purposely cover your head— a choice you have spoken to before as drawing attention away from a specific personality. However, your body of work is almost exclusively self-portraits, do you find an element of self expression in the images despite the purposeful anonymity?
I think every kind of art is a form of self expression. Its about an author who puts one’s self in relation to the world. So I do think whatever I do the viewer will get in touch with my personal imagination via the object of representation. So, yes, it does contain this form of self expression but in general I do like to create a universal picture which tells more than only something about me as a person.
What prompted you to take your practice from the studio to the outdoors?
Already at my studio my process was very performance based. But at that point it was mainly the camera and I. I created various intuitive movements which I captured with the use of the auto-timer. This praxis involved a lot of trial and error. Frequently very unspectacular movements resulted in exciting outcomes. I was wondering how it would be like if I transported my actions into an outside setting. Suddenly the idea of an audience came up. Random people were passing by, joggers, bikers, hikers or someone just going for a walk with a dog. I was basically displacing my movements into an surrounding where you certainly don’t act like that usually. I do like the idea of doing something inconvenient, which makes people stop in their regular behavior and maybe tumble over their own assumptions what they consider as being normal.
You have stated that your work is not intended to be “feminist art,” however it has been adamantly labeled as a positive feminist/pop culture critique by figures in the art world — what are your thoughts on this odd contradiction?
For me as an artist it's an huge difference if I intend my work to be feminist or if it's interpreted that way. I do think it's fine if people like to see it that way and if it can create meaning to someone else, that's wonderful. But I do think that as an artist I don’t have to take up a role as any kind of moralist or stand for a certain political direction. I do have the freedom of being a catalyzer of everything that comes in. And therefore I can also create works which are maybe sometimes conflicting and tough. I don’t have clear answers to anything, if I did I certainly wouldn’t have become an artist.
The WCW Questionnaire:
How would you describe your creative process in one word? Actions
If you could teach one, one-hour class on anything, what would it be? How to avoid boredom
What was the last book you read or film you saw that inspired you? I read this book about the perception and curiosity of kids on their own body. Very inspiring.
What is the most played song in your iTunes Library? I don’t have a iTunes Library. I listen to the radio.
How do you take your coffee? In the morning and then I slowly start to think about what to do with the day.