Selected by Helen Sumpter
Food and cooking, tongues and licking, sidesplitting laughing, singing with gusto, dancing with wild abandon. Emotion, taste – in different senses of the word, and the dynamics of everyday social situations are central to the collages and sculptures of Anne Speier. Not that the quartet of larger-than-life guffawing restaurant staff, depicted in Untitled (Red Cabbage / Laughing Cooks) (2014), would probably care about any form of etiquette, they’re too preoccupied cracking up in the kitchen as they slice up red cabbage.
Along with her chuckling chefs, Speier’s cast of predominantly but not exclusively female characters, rendered in a colour palette more psychedelic than natural, have cartoon features evocative of folk or fairytales. They might also appear timeless if it wasn’t for Speier’s multilayered collaging technique. Combining pencil, painting, and printmaking and playing with scale, depth and distortion, particularly in the use of food photography, Speire’s imagery could only be possible in a digital age. Take the collage Crystal-ball in Refusal – Bad Moods with the Mentalists (2015), in which two painted female protagonists disco-dance round a distorted image of a crystal ball. Instead of a painted body, one of the women ‘wears’ a warped photograph of two lemon halves, in much the same way as the playing card soldiers in Alice in Wonderland both ‘wear’ and ‘are’ their cards. When expanded into 3D this effect is only heightened. Speier’s sculpture Feeling the Wall (2015), one of a series of three in her exhibition Feeling the Contemporary (through 30 January at Silberkuppe, Berlin), has neither head nor body, but consists only of a pair of giant dinosaur legs on which sits a long, ribbon-like tongue, lapping against the gallery wall, feeling the mood in a form of blind tasting.
Anne Speier was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, perhaps appropriately sharing a home country with fairytale-writing-andpublishing siblings Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. She now lives and works in Vienna. In 2015 she had solo shows at Silberkuppe, Berlin; Galerie der Stadt Schwaz, Tirol and Neue Alte Brücke, Frankfurt.
This article was first published in the January & February 2016 issue of ArtReview.