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Tawny Andersen

An art theorist, from Montréal, Canada @scandinavian_pain

What was the situation in which this photo was taken?

My boyfriend and I had just discovered this stunning, new café and work space in Old Montréal, and I was enamored with the architecture and design (it’s a repurposed bank building from the 1920s with 50 ft vaulted ceilings and bronze-trimmed arches). I’m an aesthete, so I couldn’t resist capturing the space. Also, we were (and still are) very much in love, so we were having fun with self-imaging.

Could you tell us something about what you do?

I am an art theorist who is currently completing her Ph.D. I work at the intersection of the philosophy of language, deconstruction, gender studies, and performance art. In addition, I have an extensive career in contemporary dance, and have also worked in film and fashion–all of which inspires my practice.

How did you first become interested in art theory, dance and performing?

I began dancing at a young age, and although I was slated for academia, I knew very early that I wanted to pursue dance professionally. I enjoyed a decade-long career in dance, during which time I performed with many of Europe’s foremost directors. Through that, I also got into modeling and film acting, so I spent a lot of time on stage/in front of the camera before moving behind the scenes.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

I am equally excited about language and image, philosophy and art, so this career suits me perfectly. Through it, I can live between the worlds of art and ideas/theatre and theory, while also attempting to make the borders between those realms of activity more porous. I am also grateful to be able to travel regularly and to be intellectually and emotionally stimulated by the brilliant, creative people with whom I interact.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently finishing the last touches of my doctoral dissertation, which I will defend in the fall. I am also writing a book chapter, and preparing two lectures that I will give in Banff and New York. In addition, I am planning a two-year postdoctoral research project that I will begin in London in January.

What are the challenges in what you do, and how do you overcome them?

Working from home at my computer every day is a challenge for me both because of the solitude it entails and because of the sedentary nature of that lifestyle. I try to overcome this by working in a café for a few hours each day–preferably in a beautifully designed space with good music and excellent coffee! In addition, I walk about 10 kilometers a day. Many philosophers have written about the relationship between walking and thinking, and I fully believe that those activities can be intimately linked. I often go for a glass of wine with my boyfriend or a friend in the evenings to shake things up.

Could you describe your personal style?

Classic, chique, edgy minimalism.

What is your present state of mind?

In four words: cynical mind, optimistic heart.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Easter, Tami Tamaki, Haim, Fever Ray.

Which artists or designers inspire you?

Oh gosh…okay…in absolutely no particular order: Louise Bourgeois, Hélène Cixous, Michelangelo Antonioni, Ad Reinhardt, Chantal Akerman, Eva Hesse, Felix Gonzalez Torres, Ana Mendieta, Nan Goldin, Robert Mapplethorpe, Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Martin Margiela, Richard Serra, Olafur Eliasson, Teresa Margoles, Coco Chanel, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Chicago, Frances Bacon, Ren Hang, David Wojnarowicz, Leonora Carrington, The Guerilla Girls, Yoko Ono, David Lynch, Mies Van der Rohe, Peter Lindberg, Annie Leibovitz, Helmut Newton, Hans Bellmer, Robert Montgomery, Jean-Luc Godard, A.F. Vandevoorst, David Hammons, Ann Demeulemeester, James Turrell, Miranda July, William Forsythe, Lina Sheynius, David Bowie, Adrian Piper, Francesca Woodman, Claude Cahun, Raf Simons, Juergen Teller, Wolfgan Tillmans, Sophie Calle, Tracey Emin, Jenny Holzer, Vivienne Westwood, Diane Arbus, Zoe Leonard, Maxime Ballesteros, Nuboyoshi Araki….I could go on (and on and on and on!)

What is the purpose of art, in your view?

To affect, to interpret, to solicit empathy, to inspire critical thinking, to promote ethical interactions, to celebrate difference, to remind us of the contingency and relationality of identities (ideally all at the same time).

How do you spend your free time?

As an critical theorist/artist, I find that the traditional division between work and free time tends to dissolve. I spend my time writing, reading, thinking, walking, traveling, viewing and producing art, nourishing my relationships, wining and dining, and fighting–precisely–for freedom.

A high contrast black and white photo of an owl in flight

A high contrast black and white photo of a dear near the water and reids

To quote Hamlet

black and white photo of sky and water at night during a lightning strike