In her work Anaïs López investigates how people live in the city. What fascinates her is how people try to find or make a place for themselves in an urban environment. The malleability of the city is a returning theme in here work. In her most recent project ‘The Migrant’ she went a step further and questioned not only the malleability of the city, but of society in a broader sense. ‘The Migrant’ is not just about how we relate to the city and our direct surroundings but also about how we relate to ‘the other’, the outsider, the alien. The Singapore government tries to create the perfect city, but how desirable is that wish really? And who gets left along the way?
Anaïs López has evolved from a pure photographer into a storyteller, who uses still and moving images as well as sound and text to tell her stories. Her forte as an artist lies in her creative use of different strategies and methods to get her story across to her audience. She knows how to captivate an audience and make them think about the world we live in and how we relate to each other. She does this by using a small personal story to touch upon universal themes and subjects. In her current practice, photography is a means to an end, which is telling the story the best way possible. The final work includes everything; the research, the collaborations and the presentation form(s) in which the work is eventually shown. It’s therefore impossible to separate between the work itself and the presentation.
It is her belief that the future of photography lies in finding new and innovative ways to make and show work. To achieve that, she collaborates with other artists, sometimes in unexpected fields of art, and she continuously searches for innovative platforms for her work. For ‘The Migrant’ she worked (amongst others) with ‘Lots of people’, a software company with an innovative product that was designed to bring stories to smartphone users in the form of an app. She also worked with Teun van der Heijden in making an artist book of ‘The Migrant’, that she used to tell the story live in different locations.
The projects of Anaïs López are often grounded in very extensive research across different fields. For example for ‘The Migrant’ she collaborated with both a biologist and an animal rights activist. In her view extensive research is necessary to place these stories in a relevant context. Her stories hover between documentary and fine art and she tries to push the boundaries of both fields. Often, as in the case of ‘The Migrant’, her research is an integral part of the final work.
Form and structure
‘The Migrant’ was the first instance where she used a new storytelling structure, where fact and fiction intertwine. It is akin to a real life fable. She used the newspaper articles she found on the persecution of Mynahs to write a scenario about just one Mynah, that tells her his life story. In this real life fable fact and fiction melt together perfectly. This is an interesting and new way to broach difficult subjects like migration or climate change. Another new step in her work is the live performance as a way to tell her stories. She uses the artist book of ‘The Migrant’ to tell the story of Mynah to small audiences. The audience can respond directly. This interaction with the audience gives this presentation form a lot of added value. She has done over thirty performances in three different languages and every time an open and exciting dialogue occurs between her and the audience. And that dialogue is exactly what Anaïs López wants to achieve with her work.