London College of Communication graduate Anne Erhard was featured on Photograd last year and we recently caught up with her again. In a quick interview, Anne has told us about her residency which involved a six week stay at DEPO2015 in Pilsen, Czech Republic, and introduces us to her new series of work, An elderberry place.
Who are you and where did you study? I’m Anne Erhard, a photographer and writer currently based in Berlin. I studied on the BA Photography at London College of Communication and graduated in 2016.
Tell us about your new series of work, how did the idea come to the surface? An elderberry place actually developed out of my graduation project From the trees we run between, which was based around various legends of the forest. For that series, I visited the Bohemian Forest at the border of Germany and the Czech Republic. After that first visit to the region, I wanted to know more about my family history there, which is the main focus of the new work. When I came upon an ancient and very direct connection between the two places in my research, An elderberry place essentially created itself:
More than 14 million years ago, a meteorite struck the earth in what is now Southern Germany, tearing open a crater whose remains are still visible today. In the moment the meteorite hit the ground, a unique mineral, Moldavite, was created out of the melting rock, thrown upwards and scattered in the South of the Czech Republic, across an area several hundred kilometres to the East of the impact site. My father’s father, who died when my father was a boy, came from Schönfelden (Osí) in the Czech border region of Bohemia, which the German population was forced to leave in 1946. My grandfather was subsequently resettled in a German village that happened to be located within the aforementioned meteorite’s crater, a coincidence that unknowingly bound him to the home he had left behind.
We understand that you completed An elderberry place as part of an artist residency. Can you explain more? How did you secure your residency? Yes, doing a residency was one of my biggest goals for the year after my graduation. I wanted to do a program that would help me develop a project that was already in progress rather than beginning some completely new work. I applied for a few residencies in the Czech Republic before being accepted for a six-week stay at DEPO2015 in Pilsen. Writing several applications and having the project rejected along the way really helped me to refine my ideas as it forced me to repeatedly think about how to effectively communicate my plans for the project. My time in Pilsen was brilliant, I got to do, see and be involved so many different things. Everyone there was so welcoming and really went above and beyond to help me complete the project.
Have you exhibited this work now it's complete? If so, where was it shown? At the end of my residency at DEPO2015 the venue hosted the Czech-German festival Treffpunkt, and I had a solo exhibition as part of this festival. Treffpunkt is a recent initiative supported by various European organisations and brings together cultural activities from both sides of the border. I made many of the prints for the display myself in the darkroom at DEPO2015, and the final exhibition also included objects that I had gathered from my family archive.
As An elderberry place is your first completed body of work since graduating, have you got any tips or advice you can share with new graduates? The biggest learning curve was making the project outside of the university network and facilities. My main point of advice would be to learn how to use whatever your new circumstances might be to your advantage. For me, this meant a shift away from making work by shooting every couple of months and bringing the project together piece by piece. Instead, I spent a year planning the photographs I wanted to make in advance and then shooting almost all of them in the space of a few weeks. Over the course of that year, I became much more experimental and let go of a lot of expectations I had had for myself, and I think in the end this worked out well for the final result. The most important thing for me was to embrace the fact that things will move at a different pace after you graduate and accept that there will be failures and rejections along the way. Throughout that time it helps so much to keep in touch with your course friends, as you are all in the same boat and most likely facing similar struggles.
What does the future hold? I am just working on getting An elderberry place out into the world and figuring out plans of where to potentially exhibit it again this year. Beyond that I’m looking to publish a book of From the trees we run between this year and am involved in and applying to a few other exhibitions. I also have a new project idea that I am starting to plan and research, which follows on from the very last photograph I took for An elderberry place at a Czech photography museum.