©Hannah Sommer

©Hannah Sommer

C A T

By HANNAH SOMMER

C A T is an audio, video and performance artist studying at Central Saint Martins in London.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Northern blood, Yorkshire born. Growing up in the country I spent a lot of my play time outside, in safe little clearings in the woods with my dogs. Singing along on journeys vocal expression has always been a part of my catharsis. I believe in compassion, reflection and exploration of imagination are key to happiness in oneself.

I have always had animals I do rather like plants I think it is important we look after the world we live in. I have aspirations of success, but the drive for that success comes from the desire to help people. I believe that all people as they come of age should learn as much about different peoples beliefs and philosophies in order to conclude how they should live their life and contribute to the world. 

As an artist, you are quite interested in multimedia. Tell us about the different mediums and projects you are interested in?

I feel as if my identity as an artist comes from  method of use rather than the medium itself, and because of this my work could manifest as anything from illustration and painting, to audio installation and video. My work is recognizable by its strong emotional involvement and philosophical ideals matched with surreal and intense color use. For my recent exhibition, which i curated at The Concept London, I chose the title Technology and Ethics - I responded with an installation which was presented as an entertainment like format, a highly stimulating presentation of symbiotic sound and nondescript visuals.I aimed it to be a surreal reality that passed information by encompassing hearing and sight intensely. It’s title “a feeling of ignorance” was in relation to its purpose, to ask if we now require a higher form of stimulation in order to engage with information due to the normalization of an extreme daily influx of vibrant, noisy and  distracting news media. It also discusses ideas around internet equality and digital privacy rights through spoken word poetry.

The piece is 20 minutes long and can be watched at : A Feeling of Ignorance - Cat Or 

Since you work with a variety of different mediums, how does this help define your artistic style and think creatively?

Having no limit on medium means that the concept or emotion I am aiming to convey is the source of value for the work. I believe this is the way art has been evolving over the past 100 years, it’s about challenging people’s perceptions with physical metaphors that represent ideas. Without art, society would become stagnant. This allows me to be much more free and to approach an idea or concept without a pre requisite of what it must be confined to. Images and sound together create a complete multi-sensory memory for the viewer, which is much stronger a experience and will remain in the mind. Voice is an opportunity to express yourself in a raw way that is accessible to all humans as a form of empathy.

 ©Hannah Sommer

©Hannah Sommer

What are your motivations and concepts for your videos and performance art?

My work represents my mind, and how i see things from my own perception. A lot of my thinking and feeling is socially/philosophically driven and this is translated into a colorful madness. I relate to a lot of humanistic ideals and I believe we should all work to help each other regardless of belief or non belief in monotheistic judgement. I believe we should help each other as a basic means of coexistence, being nice is a means of survival for our species if not anything else. Other parts of my mind are reflected in my work, I have a deep interest in understanding how color can directly and instinctually effect peoples emotions. I myself feel heavily influenced by color and I believe when used in conjunction with symbology can be more powerful than the written word.

Who/what inspires you?

People. Culture, diversity. Autonomy, the possibility for infinite action and consequence. Positivity, creativity and catharsis of emotion, power, weakness, ethics, Lady Gaga, Bjork,  Noam Chompsky and adoration as art and a form of self expression, makeup, turtles, my parents, the innocence of animals. Cows. Couture, fashion, darling. 

What is the most exciting piece you’ve worked on so far?

My most exciting work I think for me was something I created last year on at CSM, which was a piece called *Sex+Agressive* I created a harness with images of gay porn adverts and hetero porn adverts and created what I believed to be a physical embodiment of the ways sexual advances/aggression/adverts/culture can make people feel, it had a tight grasp around the groin and hooked up the back making the wearers posture restricted and cramped. when worn it displayed the positive and negative aspects of the sex industry and its influence on people. It also acted as a physical experience if the viewer were to wear it they would have an experience through touch and restriction. Although materialistically different from my other work it taught me a lot about how to physically embody an idea into a human experience, through touch sight and movement. I developed a lot of ideas discovered in this project into some of my most successful works.

In what ways do you think being a woman in the creative industry can be challenging?

I believe the larger parts of this I am yet to experience and understand. I am in anticipation of being underestimated. I am excited to prove people wrong. I started creating when I was young and since have always been concerned at the lack of female artists in Art History. The future needs to change this. 

How does your art embody concepts of femininity or women’s issues?

I think  because I am creating work from a feminine perspective it does automatically.  Regardless of my gender, my position and appearance in society is as a cis-feminine human who wears a lot of color/glitter/whatever and therefore is received by others as an individual to be observed and conclude about. I am within a section of society with (as many young females will understand) is perceived almost with another set of rules. I feel like game sometimes. I reject this by pushing my self expression further outward, but I guess by presenting myself as who I truly feel I am I am protesting the (occasionally unintentional )oppression I encounter from peoples reactions everyday. this influences my mentality as I notice these behaviors and they are reflected in my work as part of my thought process.

 ©Hannah Sommer

©Hannah Sommer

cat25_preview.jpg
 ©Hannah Sommer

©Hannah Sommer

Where do you create the majority of your work?

All my ideas are in my Moleskin diaries, which I’ve been keeping consistently since I was 10. For a long time, I have turned my emotions into illustrations and poems in these books as a means of understanding and working though life and mental things. They hold all my juicy concepts as well that then get branched out into bigger projects, but I do make a lot of stuff in bed, I edit all my videos in bed. I love bed. Lying down saves energy to think more. Although my uni studio is where I feel most inspired, theres something about coexistence and interaction with likeminded people that pushes you to keep going.

What are your essentials for a good creative working environment?

Definitely your tool set, so you can look at everything and select what you need, pictures and posters random bits of paper on the walls. Images of your dogs to keep you going strong. Stickers. Glitter. Glue sticks and pens of every color, glitter glue. If you decorate your work space and make it more attractive to yourself the more you will find yourself creating in that space. It will be like a self-created dimension where you can see your thoughts. Ooh and post-it notes!!!

Do you have any projects/goals you are currently working towards?

Yes! I am currently putting together a response for my next exhibition/event at The Concept London Lee Lewisham. Which is titled Fem Fatale. It is an exhibition which is all about female artists or artists who identify as fem (gender isn’t relevant) getting together to create work that causes discussion and awareness. Topics will be linked to sexual empowerment, what it means to be fem in our society and how people treat you based on this! There will also be performance art, (some real good weird shit) live music and djing/ music performance from yours truly(and a couple others)! Check out @theconceptldn for updates.