Ed Atkins is considered one of the most unsettling contemporary artists – as well as one of the most exciting. In this video, the young British artist shares how he works from written texts, and why melancholy is at the centre of his animated digital videos.
“I wanted to make videos that spoke a lot about the way that they were made, so that you never forgot the thing that you were looking at.” The holistic approach to making videos appeals to Atkins, who likes the fact that you don't have to decide on one single thing – you can write, perform, add music and animation as you please. Moreover, he feels that he chose the path of art, as “it’s the only place that I can imagine that I can bring all of these things together on my own in a room.”
“Building up an animation, for me, is not that different to building up a sentence – building up a narrative.” Atkins feels that writing – with its grammar and syntax – is at the root of how he creates his work. Language is the way he thinks, so “often an image will come out in the form of language, and that image will become manifest in the video.”
The characters in Atkins’ video works are “born dead” and “generated from emptiness”: “There’s something missing from that world, and from the characters that are in that world. The thing that is missing sort of defines it.” Loss, insufficiency, inability, failure and in particular melancholy play a great role in Atkins work, and are feelings that Atkins considers “the absolute bedrock of making things.”
Ed Atkins (b. 1982) is a British artist whose oeuvre consists largely of photography and digital videos in which he incorporates computer-generated characters – CGI avatars – and scenes as a means to explore the ways in which digital forms of representation can create new versions of reality. The avatar protagonist often delivers poetic soliloquies addressed to the viewer, which is symptomatic of the fact that Atkins’ video works often are derived from text and in particular poetry. Atkins has had solo exhibitions at prominent venues such as Tate Britain in London, MoMA PS1 in New York, Palais de Tokyo in Paris and Kunsthalle Zürich. In 2012 he performed the critically acclaimed ‘Depression’ at the Serpentine Memory Marathon. Atkins lives in Berlin.
Ed Atkins was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner in Berlin in October 2017.
Camera: Klaus Elmer
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2017
Supported by Nordea-fonden