Anne Herzog, 25, of Cherbourg, France works across genres and mediums and schools of thought. Hers is a sort of hybrid form of abstraction of paints, photography, text, sound and cartoonish resemblances of reality.
Her innovative approach to art began at the age of 12. She and a group of students travelled to a radioactive part of Normandy to capture the deformed and regenerating landscape through art. And, as she explained, her stylist take on art would evolve: “ Then I started recording the sound of my pencil and using the sound as an artwork. While I was listening to the song ‘Antichrist Superstar’ by Marilyn Manson.”
She described her work as a “earth work, fiction and reality” that exaggerates the sacred and profane. According to her, an important element of her pieces is “premonition”.
Herzog attended the academy of Visual Arts in Iceland, studied at Multimedia in the University of Angers and also studied Fine Art at the Nantes School of Art. After graduating with a Master’s Degree in Fine Art, she flew to New York for an internship. She explained that she was awarded a scholarship by her school that allowed her the chance opportunity to make art works with volcanoes as its central theme. The experience would awaken a fiery enthusiasm in Herzog for these explosive mountainous features, volcanic eruptions and the toxic billowing smoke and soot.
The premise of her research project was to illuminate the possibility that the Snaefeljokull volcano could be the centre of the earth, a mystical portal to a fantastical underworld or the gateway to a hidden realm ruled by aliens. Snaefeljokull, which is a glacial volcano, was the subject of classical literary works as the introduction to an allegorical quest.
Jules Vernes published the Journey to the Centre of the Earth in 1864. In it the antagonist explored an extinct volcanic crater known as Snaeffels on a glacier in Iceland, entered an extremely unstable parallel universe and escaped through the mouth of another active volcano called Stromboli off the coast of Sicily.
“My project was to find the centre of the earth in Iceland in 2004. I made a documentary film and pictures of the incredible Snaefeljokull volcano.”
Her intrigue with volcanic activity eventually inspired her to create an entire collection of artwork about the powerful formations created as a result of extreme shifting between tectonic plates of land that float on molten lava. “I’m interested in geology, volcanoes, amphibians, underground world. I also have a fascination with representations of volcanoes.”
But Herzog who has been working as a video editor, is not afraid to trek around the globe to get a closer picture of an unpredictable volcano. Nor does she cower when facing the agitated rumbling beast that is her muse. She journey across rugged terrain in almost unreachable places toting nothing more than a camera and a tripod in search in of active volcanoes.
Her journey towards the jaws of the earth, has taken her to some interesting destinations.
She remembered some of the people and places along the way: “I went to a volcanic area near the Indian Ocean. I visited Italy and Iceland. I spend 3 months in desertic area called Snaefelness to capture the landscape. People say it’s the perfect place to see aliens.”
She moved around a lot and took up various jobs near volcanic sites to help her earn a living. Her time there granted her insights about the relationship between mythology and mankind. “I was recording all the things that people were telling me and I was hitch hiking around the volcanoes. I was recording the drivers. Also I was going down into the caves in the fire mountain and climbing through the snow on the top of the volcanoes to find the centre of the earth. I thought there was an interesting genealogy of people that lived in that area.”
The collection “Fractures and Faults” will be featured between April 18 and May 16 at the Corner Bar on Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook. The central idea of the pieces that will be displayed in the exhibition are drift continents that are related to the origins of the world as we know it: “My work is on the origins of the universe. It concerns volcanoes, Jurassic reptiles and amphibians. Creatures mediating between water and land, linking periods of time between prehistoric times and age present. As well as strange ‘attractors’ and ‘fractals’ which are the subject of chaos theory.”
One piece called “Flag, The Roof is in Fire” is an apocalyptic view of end times: “I made flags and then I burnt them to express the drift continents. I kept the ashes in a box and the wood burnings of the flag. This is a sculpture.” Another piece called the “Brooklyn, Dream” is a haunting video that was created by burning the film and destroying with chemicals in a dark room. “There are mysterious pictures where we can see an another reality.”
The art show will feature a selection of sketches, drawings, paintings, photographs and films. “It’s a silver film that can show something else as a reality. It is a medium that can show the invisible, ghost , apparition, different times and futures and other dimensions.”
Herzog said that it was her art curator Nicollette Ramirez based in New York who suggested that she present her art in Trinidad: “Nicolette proposed that I show my art on this island in the Atlantic ocean. Trinidad is a piece of land that is surrounded by water. It’s a piece of earth, is an emergent land feature. It seemed to me to be a curious, specific and original country.
I would love to explore this area.” Though, she will not be in Trinidad during the exhibition, she is planning on making a trip to discover the mystery of the island herself.
But she stated that something is still pulling her to return to the site of the glacial volcanoes: “I know this project is not finished for me. I will always look at the centre of the earth in western part of Iceland.”