Face To Face: An Interview With Anna Boghiguian

When I walked into the DAAD Galerie to meet with artist-in-residence Anna Boghiguian the walls were bare and the floors were crowded with drawings awaiting hanging. Anna herself was arranged amidst the organized chaos at a small table with a cell phone, texting peacefully.


Born in Egypt in 1946, Anna now lives as a nomad with Canadian citizenship, making her home wherever she travels, producing prolific series of drawings and collages. Like her work Anna is inquisitive, probing, keenly observant and refreshingly brash, which lead to a conversation in which I was as much the subject as the artist herself.


BAPs: Could you tell me a little about the work you made while you were in Berlin?

AB: I have been doing work that reminds me of Berlin. I didn’t know what to do, and then someone gave me a present—an apple. And then from that apple, I thought of Nefertiti and the presence of Egypt in Berlin. You know the presence of Ancient Egypt has spread to many countries, but Nefertiti’s head has an iconic symbolism; and it was interesting to me because she comes from the area of Minya, which is the same place that Hosni Mubarak comes from. So, I went and I made drawings of [the bust of Nefertiti] and then it was on the [museum] island.

I had been there during the time of the wall, and it used to belong to East Germany. The whole place is totally different now, so I started drawing the Brandenburg Gate, because there was a wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate when I was young, and I had done drawings there a long time ago. I thought was interesting because, of course, the design [of the gate] is very much taken from the Acropolis.


daad-4Anna’s work awaiting the hanging in the DAAD Gallerie. Photo: Chris Phillips


Berlin’s past is very interesting; it’s a very interesting city, and once a long time ago, it was the cabaret of Europe. And I suppose it must still be the cabaret of Europe but I didn’t explore this. You know I wanted to go to the Kit Kat club, but they told me you had to be dressed in a sexy manner, you have to party, so then I didn’t want to go. I think I may go some day, but I’m very old now, so we’ll see.


BAPs: Did you go to any clubs or bars while you were in Berlin?

AB: No. Did you?


BAPs: I’ve been to a few. I don’t go clubbing too often, but I like how egalitarian the bars are here. In my neighborhood you can go to a bar with people of all ages and classes, men women children.

AB: They bring children in the bars? But you don’t have that kind of thing in America…

BAPs: No, I think America is more segregated.

AB: You know what I noticed about America? Upper class people, you never see them on the streets in North America. The middle class and lower class, you see them on the street, but I never saw upper class people on the streets.


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