Crowds and Crate Diggers

Lotte Andersen

8 Sep–28 Oct 2023
Crowds and Crate Diggers
Lotte Andersen

Conceptual Fine Arts
In the Santa Maria la Ribera neighborhood of Mexico City, where Lotte Andersen lives and works, the street vendors announce their wares with rhythmic calls. Different wares ask for different tones, each word bending and stretching as they fly through the air. I imagine the syllables collide as the sounds waft in through the windows, making sparks and invisible collages.

“Sound is a physical object in space,” Lotte has said. Compared to images, or even sculpture, sound is a slippery medium for art: it seems to leave no empirical trace; it is difficult to discern the details. Yet as music, sound serves as the glue for entire scenes, countercultures, and fashions. It’s carnal in a way that painting can only approximate. When loud enough, sound feels like a substance you can sculpt in your hands, a bass that throbs along with your heartbeat. I think that Lotte’s new work in Crowds and Crate Diggers––across collage, sculpture, and performance––is best understood as a kind of materialized sound, if sound is a kind of energy that can travel across time and space, that exists between people and histories, carrying the traces of where it came from and where it’s going.

Lotte frames her practice as akin to crate digging, searching for vinyl records in trunk sales and secondhand shops, as well as her grandparent’s antique business and her father’s record collection. She gathers and collects imagery, scans, photos, newspapers, magazine, Xeroxes and embeds them into collages and sculptures alike: “I am interested in compressing and packing all these stories, textures, dust, historical and political contexts into the work, along with a sense of movement.” Her musical approaches extend to her collage technique, which she relates to sampling and remixing, in which visual materials are like “sound clips roughly edited.”

Take Midnight (2023), one of the collages in her new show. The text comes from Chicha posters Lotte found in Peru, where she lived in 2019. Chicha, also known as Peruvian cumbia, is a hybrid musical genre from the 1960’s. Formed as Andean and Amazonian migrants, singing about their daily lives in the villages, moved to coastal cities like Lima, Chicha music came from their children, who remixed traditional huayno songs with the rhythms of urban life. Midnight combines a Chicha poster with curls of tortilla paper and newspaper clippings, as if this intergenerational exchange would create fireworks. A closer look at the sparks and reveals family photos embedded in the sweat-drop-shaped particulates.

In her puzzle works, like The Messenger (2023), sound is materialized as interactive puzzles with archival images, where viewers are invited to reconstruct maps and family memories into new configurations. Photographs from albums before Lotte’s family immigration from India and the Caribbean to the UK are interposed onto geometric and organic shapes. Featuring portraits of sisters two generations apart, group family images, scans of Maps, postcards, handwritten notes, commas, sheet music, and wrapping paper, the puzzles hold the memory of how to make these submerged histories “whole” again. When I say that the works are like materialized sound, I mean that they are like surfaces on which sound has been deposited, collaged into a 2-d format.

Lotte places herself in a lineage of artists, musicians and designers who chose to live their work––”youthquakes,” as she calls them: from the music-art fusions of the Tropicalia movement in Brazil, to the organic art collaborations of Don and Moki Cherry, or the revolutionary tailor John Pearse (with who Lotte worked for in her youth) and his contributions to the punk rock scene in the UK. Lotte’s installations might be better understood as taking a pit-stop through the gallery, a brief respite, before heading back out into the night. Her installations are a cousin of the club night, MAXILLA, she used to organize in London. A “space of combustion,” as she once described. “What I really want people to feel is that rush, and that sense of bodies, that you feel in club spaces,” Lotte has said. “I consider the body as a site for joy and resistance and I see music as the backbone of that.”

-Simon Wu

Lotte Andersen is a British artist working with collage, sound, video, and sculpture to investigate group dynamics and movement in various contexts. Oscillating between investigative and autobiographical modes, Andersen’s work invites the viewer to activate and participate while simultaneously being faced with the implications of their presence. Andersen has presented work at La Casa Encendida, Madrid (2022); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2019); Hyundai Card Storage Foundation, Seoul, Korea (2019); and David Kordansky, Los Angeles (2022). She lives and works between Mexico City, Mexico and Lima, Peru.