I met up with Anni Kruus, an alumni from BA (Hons) Photographic Art at University of South Wales. Anni is currently studying an MA in Fine Art at Central St Martins, UAL. We talked all things art, dance and life after graduation - thank you, Anni x
Who are you as an artist?
Wow starting with an easy one...well, I would say that everything I do springs from my physical relationship to the world around me and my movement, both casual movement and more planned or choreographed movement. I’m interested in how that changes both me and the world.
Why did you decide to come to London?
I always wanted to live in London, even before I decided to study in the UK. I knew that I wanted to move here at some point. I’ve always lived in a city, not as big as London! But I am a city girl, and there’s something about London as an international hub of art and so I wanted to experience that.
How long is your MA?
It’s two years.
And did you do it straight after your BA?
No, I graduated from Newport in 2014 and then I moved to London. At first, I didn’t have a job or anything, but then I got an internship in an interior design company. I was at a point where they were growing quite fast, so it was a great experience. I was an unpaid intern there for a while whilst also working in a coffee shop. From there, I worked as an employee at the company, and now I do the photography for their website - I’ve done that since early 2015. Whilst I was interning and working there, an agency called Office Angels found my CV and they got me a few temporary jobs in the head office of Marks & Spencer. I did lots of officey things there, product presentations and things. It wasn’t a creative job, but I was helping marketing teams, so it was still really valuable experience. There have been times when I’ve been unemployed for a couple of months in my freelance photography. It’s very slow to get into creative jobs or even really casual jobs in London because there’s so much competition. So I decided to apply for MAs, I got in on the first try, I just had a few years inbetween finishing my BA and starting here. I’d recommend taking a few years off after graduation, unless you have a very clear idea of yourself as an artist/photographer. I’ve gravitated to Fine Art so doing an MA is beneficial to me. Finding housing here is a nightmare too, you have to make really quick decisions, but I just got a flat with my best friend and it’s amazing. It’s pure luck here. So right now I’m in a good place. I already have a residency next summer in Berlin so I’m going there for a month.
Oh wow, that’s amazing!
Yeah it is, now looking back, I think ‘wow, I’ve actually done a lot here’, but when you’re in it you feel like nothing is moving forward and you’re just stuck in a minimum wage job...
Of course. So, what’s in Berlin?
Well, I came across a gallery that does artist residencies, and I just sent them an email because they had an open call. Usually it’s a massive application, and I’ve done a fair amount of those. With this one, you just had to send a simple, short email with examples of your work and within two days they replied saying yeah! So again, it’s luck.
Would you recommend doing an MA then?
I would. I want to do a PHD at some point. I’m a bit of a nerd so I always knew I wanted to do a Masters. I think, especially if you want to get into fine art, it seems like that’s the way to network. It’s not necessarily about what the course can offer you and it’s not like it’s automatically going to make you into a successful artist, but my experience here has been great. The community, other students and the collaborative environment pushes you to reach out and find opportunities. Things like that are really helpful, I’d say doing a Masters is a really good idea, definitely for my kind of practice or if you’re just looking for where you’d fit, then it’s hugely beneficial. It’s different for every artist.
You dance a lot in your work, have you always danced?
I started ballet when I was four. I haven’t always danced as a primary form of expression, I mainly danced ballet from aged four to nine. Then I moved on to figure skating and did that until I was 19, it’s very competitive. There’s always a dance element in figure skating training so you’d have at least one or two dance practices per week. When I quit skating, I got back into going to dance classes, exploring more contemporary and modern dance. That’s when I began incoroporating it into photography and contemporary practice during my time studying in Newport. I had a moment last year when I wasn’t sure if I could incorporate it into my practice anymore but my tutor was adament that I should try, so now I’m still doing it, ha! It’s always been a part of my life, dance, definitely.
You said you choreograph, do you improvise at all?
I do both. I mainly improvise but sometimes I choreograph as well. I don’t have any formal training in that. My formal training was from when I was between four and nine years old, ever since it’s been through less formal styles.
Would you say that photography and video is the main area of your practice?
At the moment it’s video. Video and installation and potentially performance. We have a thing here, a bit like a crit, but it’s more curated. It’s called Practice Events. We have a space downstairs (at the studio space) where we can put up little exhibitons, so I’m kind of working on something for that that includes performance and video. Ultimately though, it all came from photography, I mean, I studied it for a reason. I still enjoy it, but I don’t use it as my main practice. My video style is quite unusual, there’s a lot of digital manipulation. I’m interested in how movement creates space.
Who inspires you?
To be honest, a lot of different people, even the people I share my studio with. People I’m surrounded by. A performace artist, Florence Peake, did a talk in a visiting lecture series a couple of weeks ago, she’s groundbreaking to me. She has formal dance training but does some really strange performances. Janine Antoni too, some of her works really influence me at the moment. Also, Richard Long, whose work is very different. I’m interested in the environment and human impact on the environment so there’s something that land artists sometimes manage to communicate and his work is very subtle. My first biggest influence was Francesca Woodman, she’s everyone’s queen isn’t she? Anna Mendieta as well. It kind of changes all the time, it depends on where I’m at in my head at the time.There are even some musicians that I really admire, you can just see that they are really driven by some idea that they have and they just believe in it. That’s really inspiring.
Do you have any advice for me as a budding graduate?
Just go for residencies and internships and things. Do your research - I didn’t do any of that. When you graduate time flies and you’re just like ‘ahhh where did it go?’ That’s what I’m doing at the moment. July is sorted with Berlin now, but something like that would have been amazing when I graduated. Enter competitions too! Also, don’t limit yourself to photography. I started sculpting and painting when I came here, there’s so many places you can go. Keep your eyes open, some opportunities just come and go.