Anja Seiler: Selected works, 2015-2022
Anja Seiler’s artistic work explores the material earth in a broad sense: Clay as a metaphor for earth.
The earth which refers to the forces of attraction and gravity keeping us grounded -to the planet, its geology and its concentrated rotations, the earth which is synonymous with life and medium for seeds and plants, the earth which separates the over- from the underground and which finally proposes the material clay allowing to materialize all these related questions.
She’s fascinated by the secular relationship between humans and clay throughout history.
Not only due to its intrinsic lively and transformative character—this prima materia is probably the most human of all: It seems like a soulmate who, in the creational process, guides the projection of an idea very quickly towards a hands over mind dialogue where clay takes over.
Skin Clay, 2022
Through its millennial geological migration, clay has inherited the colors of mankind: from the pale white of the kaolins to the black manganese stoneware through a wide range of colors of the various clays: yellow ochres, terra-cotta oranges, iron oxide reds to the whole palette of browns incorporating the variety of skin tones of the world.
While working with clay, I have realized that I always go through a nostalgic phase where I dream of preserving as long as possible that state of clay, which is compared to “leather hardness,” a materiality unique to slightly damp clay, and thus immortalize this aspect of epidermis. I try not only to mimic the consistency of clay skin by preserving its greasy and satiny surface but also its human texture that welcomes my handprints. The amphorae, archetypes of archaic receptacles, illustrate both naturally the metaphor of a human container and the life force it contains.
These objects are the mark of our passage to sedentarization. They symbolize the great prehistoric civilizations and thus incorporate the notion of identity and cultural heritage. Their suspension symbolically underlines their fragility and the vulnerability of crafts and ceramics. I like the idea of suspending it in space and time for a moment.
Anja Seiler explores the analogy between clay and human skin. Similar to the weathering process of the human skin and body, clay loses its moisture as it goes through a drying phase, a unique materiality that has been compared to “leather hardness.” Initially, Anja is drawn to archetypal archaic receptacles that naturally illustrate the metaphor of a human container and carry the notion of identity and cultural heritage.
By merging two or more containers around a common joint, she abandons their function and creates a gradient passage to materialize both the texture and the various colors of human skin.
Faire Surface, 2018
One day, I observed an earthworm feeding on the soil’s organic matter, bringing a mixture of clay to the surface to form an earthy little building. The series “Hors-sol” materializes research that led me to dig up a local underground clay in the middle of an urban environment to try to make a form that emerges from the ground.
The granary is an above-ground reservoir for storing grain. Through a funnel, the seeds are led into a body protected from light, a symbol of interiorization and passage to the subsoil.
This work is a nod to Robinson Crusoe and the library dedicated to him at the Kunst(Zeug)Haus in Rapperswil Museum for Contemporary Art. In immersing myself in his world, I find a man whose life seems to mirror the history of humanity.
Thrown naked on a land devoid of any human presence, this mythical character first covers himself with animal skins like a hunter-gatherer, fishes, then tames animals before becoming a sedentary farmer. He is a “homo faber” and inventor of tools. A potter by necessity but a sailor at heart, he builds granaries in the shape of a creel, where the seeds can enter but not leave the storage area contained in the double walling.
Rolly Polly, 2015-2016
A rolly polly, an object with a weighted base, always stands upright after being tipped over and returns to the vertical while oscillating. An invisible force continually puts the object “back on its feet.” The vertical attraction underlines the need for anchoring. The installation of several pieces allows the spectator to touch the ceramic pieces to set them in motion to create an ephemeral choreography.
- Kaolin, 2022, Installation in wood structure, colored mixed stoneware, ashes, white terra sigillata, 1200°C°, dia 90 x H 120cm, photo credit Thomas Maisonasse
Siena, 2022, Installation in wood structure, mixed terra sigillata red / orange stoneware, terra sigillata, ashes, 1200°C, dia 85x H 110cm, photo credit Thomas Maisonasse
Umber, 2022, Installation in wood structure, manganèse / red stoneware, ashes, 1200°C, dia 85x H 110cm, photo credit Thomas Maisonasse
- Passage I, 2022, colored stoneware, 1200°C°, credit Luca-Fascini. This piece was made for the IAC members exhibition MIGRATION
Passage II, 2022, colored stonewares, terra sigillata, ashes, 1200°C, ca 65 x 55 x 40 cm
Pneumon, 2022, various stonewares, terra sigillata, 1200°C, ca 50 X 50 x 25 cm
- City Clay – Horsol, ephemeral installation, raw clay
Bronze – Horsol, bronze sculpture of a worm excrement, 12 cm
Horsol III, 2017, black stoneware, 1120°C, 27 x 23cm
Horsol V, 2017, black stoneware & glaze, 1120°C, 32 x 41 cm
Horsol I, 2017, black stoneware, 1120°C, 26 x 20cm
Horsol II, 2017, black stoneware, 1120°C, 25 x 22cm
Horsol IV, 2017, black stoneware, 1120°C, 25x 31 x 28cm
- Granary I, 2018, stoneware, grog, smoke fired, 900°C, 31x32x28cm, photo credit N. Zimmermann
Granary II, 2018, wild stoneware, ashes, basalt, 1260°C, dia 31 x 28 cm, photo credit N. Zimmermann
Granary III, 2018, stoneware, grog, smoke fired 900°C, 31x32x28cm
- Rolly Polly, 2015/2016, faience, terra sigillata, smoke fired, 1100°C, H approx 40cm