Anna Mala is 31 Czech-born raised, and have been living in The Netherlands for the past six years. Two years ago she graduated in Fashion Design from The Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. Since then, she has been gradually drifting away from fashion design, focusing more on styling and trying out different ways to express herself through image and (lately also) video.
Text: Tatiana Makrinova
How do you define what you do?
I think I have specific aesthetics and I like to apply those aesthetics to anything: a body, an object, space, it doesn’t matter to me. I aim to create imagery that is authentic and bold.
Our current issue is titled “The Future is in Diversity”. What associations come to mind when considering this topic?
In relation to your theme, you mentioned a desire to help and create an environment in which everyone can create his or her happiness. As much as I think it reflects the current mood among the younger generation, there have of course been countless attempts to create a better (read diverse) world throughout the human history. That makes me think of a Utopia, a fantasy, an ideal that we can’t ever reach.
Do you think it is important to have those ideals, or is it rather harmful in a sense that it’s impossible to reach them?
Ideals are essential. In my opinion, trying to avoid something that is harmful or painful will ultimately only cause greater damage. Face it!
How is art important for diversity nowadays?
I think art has the power to reveal stereotypes and even make us abandon them; it has an eye-opening effect. I once wrote down a quote by artist Nadine Byrne that fits well with your theme, I think: "Art is like entering a parallel world... it expands our notion of what the world and reality are."
The Future is in Diversity also forces me to think about what I do to keep myself open to diversity. It is something that scares me because I notice that I can quite easily get trapped in a narrow mindset. I wonder how hard it is to genuinely think independently because rules are sneaky - they creep up into our system and are hard to detect. Once in a while it is important to shake them off. You know that feeling when you realised you've actually been inside a box for a while and then something makes you suddenly see things in a completely different light or perspective?
So what helps you to get “outside the box” and actually get rid of all the stereotypes?
I'm not sure, really. It’s not necessarily up to me to say, as when you really are “in the box”, you are not even aware of it. But I would say I try and create conditions for myself to which I have to adapt to, destroy the current setting and start fresh again. It can be something as simple as rearranging furniture in my house, suddenly objects get uncoupled from old concepts and become perceived in more direct way.
Your Instagram feed embodies a very fresh and somewhat provocative aesthetic. Why do you choose yourself as a subject?
I choose myself simply because it brings me satisfaction and it is convenient to be my own model. Ultimately, it is an extremely liberating feeling as there are no pre-set rules or restrictions. It is hard for me to define the urges behind it and at the moment, I can’t really explain or justify it. I would like to say it’s more than just bare exhibitionism, but it might as well be just that. I don’t think I consciously choose to be provocative - what I want is to create a certain tension and a sense of weirdness or oddity, something that doesn’t quite fit into our established norms of behaviour.
Could you talk about your current interests/ discuss influences in your work?
My current interests: Ikebana, gothic paintings, 70's porn movies, flowers and ropes, mirrors, Maya Deren and her surrealist movies. In terms of style, accidental style icons that I see on the streets are my ongoing interest. My inspiration often comes from a certain urge. For example, I feel a pull towards dirt, using specific colours, objects or materials. It often has something to do with sensuality and tactility. I like to make quick tests and see where it leads. Working fast and with limited options seems to bring the best results for me. I just try to get into the right flow and keep a healthy “I don’t give a fuck” attitude.
What are your next steps in the creative industry? Are there any interesting projects that you are working on at the moment?
I want to get bigger and better, expand my network and to collaborate more. Project wise, I’ve just finished a video clip for an exhibition. It is an uncut recorded performance of my alter-ego character Nelli Blu - a new and exciting experience for me.