Paper Kite Artists in Residency: Anke Sauer

Panama Hotel, Seattle
Wednesday, January 1, 2003
Wednesday, January 1, 2003

Interview with Anke Sauer
Scott Skinner

DF: You come from where?

A: From Germany, Moenchen-Gladbach.

DF: Moenchen-Gladbach. That is really difficult (to say). Yeah, I wanted to ask you when did you first get interested in kites?

A: Really with kites…

DF: When you were little?

A: When I was 11 or 12, sure, I always flew kites but that’s just what kids do. Your grandpa or father gives you a kite and you fly kites. But that’s something different. As a kid you get a kite pressed into your hand and you go for it. Sure, that’s fun, it’s fun for every kid. But that’s something different than being interested in kites.

DF: So how did you come to it?

A: Through my sister.

DF: So, Kisa?

A: Yeah, eventually I moved out and found work in the Ruhr area. My sister lived there already and she had had time that year, right before I moved there, to form a group of people that went kite flying. And I just joined them. And that’s how it actually came about.

DF: And then you started to build your own kites?

A: I actually started building my own kites right away. They were just like Kirsten’s stunt kites. And one-liners out of spinnaker, sure. It’s only been for five or six years, no six years, that I’ve been building Tyvek kites and painting them. So that’s only been for six years.

DF: And what is your job?

A: I always had a shop. I trained to be a typesetter, but then two years after my apprenticeship, I started to work on Macintoshes: image/text processing and advertising. For two years now I’ve been doing more advertisements. Back then my shop was advertising, lithography for the printing shops. But since demand for that kind of work grew less and less, since the graphic artists did it themselves, and since I got irritated with my colleagues, I stopped that, sold the shop and have worked for two years now as a graphic artist. Now I make those direct marketing inserts that nobody wants. Real lowly stuff. It’s funny.

DF: Does your work inform your kite art?

A: No, not at all. I use my computer as a tool, of course, because I know that thing inside, out. It’s really easier for me to sit at the computer and do something than to take out a pen and paint something. And I don’t think you’ve seen my kites, the ones I normally make. If we can leave the paper for a second, those are actually balls. They are ball shapes with room(?) in between. I build this stuff on the 3D program, look at it from all sides, glance it over, search for the right perspective and then paint it on a large scale. When I go to fly the kite, it’s totally flat. When I let it up though, it’s far away, so it looks like it’s many balls again.

DF: Three-dimensional.

A: People are always totally shocked, actually. If you look at pictures, in pictures, it’s even more (pronounced) than when you see it outside on the field. It really looks super heavy with its many colors, and Tyvek isn’t transparent. The balls look so heavy you’d think they couldn’t even fly. That’s very exciting. So, I just make that with my computer, although it doesn’t actually have anything to do with my work. It acts more like a balance (to the work).

DF: And when did you start working with paper as a material?

A: Actually for about four years, on and off again. But really not much, mostly at a kite festival when Robert and the others are there and you have a week to spend. During the kite flying, at some point you say, “Ahhh, I can’t see anymore,” and go into the tent and just build a little. So that’s with paper, but actually it’s been two years since I started those strange things that I’m building in there. It’s actually because of the contest, because Scott told us we should build paper kites. It was actually a total coincidence.

DF: Yeah

A: I was pretty bored.

DF: Could you say a few words about the kites you are working on now?

A: Actually, I don’t know what else to add because it’s not…I can tell a story about it. I just did it because I was totally bored. It was the weekend, it was raining, it was freezing cold and I didn’t feel like doing nothing. And I really just had a drink and said, “OK Anke let’s make something with paper and see what comes of it.” And then I just built these small little hats and wove them together and it looked really sharp. They were like an egg carton, that’s what we would say, they look like an egg carton…

DF: Triangular (egg carton)?

A: No, they’re round too, but if you kind of look at them from above they still look like an egg carton. The first ones were white, too. And Kirsten said I wouldn’t be able to transport it. It wouldn’t have been possible because it’s three-dimensional and the paper would probably get crushed. And I thought that as well, “Yeah sure, it’s actually really bad.” Two days later, as I was discussing it with my boss at the company, it came to me that you could just push it together. I went home and tested that out and made it really zhhhhhhu (folding together sound)! And I stood there like shmmmm (satisfied). “Look, Kirsten, there’s no problem transporting this kite.” That was a hit. A real hit. Nobody had expected it!

DF: And the whole thing fits in a small box?

A: Yep, in a small box.

DF: And you said, you needed it to [compress] because you have a small car.

A: Yeah, I do. A small, Italian sports car. And when I bought it, I lined up all my big kites and shortened them down to a meter so that I could transport them all. All in their sleeves, and that’s why it was always a real joke when I said that I could fit (the pyramid kite) in a car like that, which everyone knows about. Yeah, this system should work. Mostly it’s a coincidence, a real coincidence. Sure, I can say that with the big kites I simulate a three-dimensional object, whereas with the paper kites I just make a three-dimensional kite. I can’t really say more than that. It’s a coincidence. It wasn’t planned. Now is when I’m starting to plan. When I start to build the pyramids and glue them to each other, the possibilities that open up are enormous, simply because it’s never been done before. And if you start to think about it, the more you can plan what that thing will look like or how to fold it up or how the coloring should look. So that’s only starting right now. That you think exactly about it and have tried a few things out and now the planning comes along.

DF: Was this workshop the impetus for that?

A: Na, na, I had already built the first ones by the beginning of last year and then in the meantime the second one came along. I think I built almost four pieces between October and now. And that’s really a hell of a lot of work when you have work and have other hobbies as well. It’s not as if I’m only flying kites or building kites. I really work a lot. I always work until eight or nine at night and then I eat at home. Not as much time as here.
DF: And what does this workshop mean to you?

A: It is totally pleasant to have a week long to simply build. And it’s simply that much more pleasant to do it with people that you know or that you like to build together with. Because alone you would never do such a thing. Well, I could never imagine that I would spend a whole week holed up alone in my room gluing pyramids together. I would start climbing the walls or something… It’s simply absurd, I just wouldn’t do it. Here it hardly makes a difference though. I can laugh at myself. And there’s a very pleasant atmosphere over there, in any case. I mean, now and then it gets a little bit loud when everyone wants to draw a breath at once but otherwise each person is working very intensively. It’s almost as if the room’s crackling. When you come in you get sort of a rhrhrhrrhr, a very strange energy that meanders through the room and now and then flies off. You know that you aren’t the only one that’s stupid. That’s cool. They all laughed at me because of these small pieces, but then when I see Scott Skinner with his patchwork or Anna, who glued these tiny leaves to each other, then I see they don’t need to laugh at me. It’s ok though. I can laugh just as easily at them because they’re all stupid, too. That’s just it. And that makes things more pleasant, of course, when you aren’t the only one who’s batty. It’s easier when you can look at the others.
Besides we’ve known each over there for so long already and it’s the same every time. Just recently, when we got picked up at the airport, for example, or when Robert stood there all of a sudden, you actually got the feeling that you had just seen each other yesterday. It’s just like a small family. It was always like that, wherever we’d meet in the world, we were coming from completely different places, but the wave length is so perfect that it’s really like, even though you haven’t see them for a long time, you know them so well and so it works so well that you really feel like it was only yesterday that we were there or there. And that’s why it works so wonderfully with us, I think. The people that were invited here – it’s like a family reunion, actually. That’s why we had to laugh when you asked me at the airport whether I would recognize Anna. Sure, from far away.

DF: Yeah, I had no idea that you were practically related…

A: (Laughs.)

DF: Yeah, I think that’s it. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

A: No.

DF: It’s enough?

A: I’m happy when I don’t have to say much.

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