Fifty Flags of Grey

Andrea works under the Pseudonym name “All Flags Are Grey” and is an artist and musician having her music featured on MTV Kerrang and NME. Her collection of art works lies at the center of a vortex swirling fragments of deeply personal memories driven by her inner war and her reaction to society’s underlying sadness. Her work “Minneapolis and Graffiti” tells the twisted tale of her encounter with mid-America’s immigration system.

There is humor to her work yet a dark honesty which has lead her work to be described as ‘beautifully vulgar’ Her most recent project “Karl’s Salon” looks at the sexualization of women as Andrea confronts her own personal traumas engendered by this, whilst taking female objectification to the extreme “all in the name of fashion ”

I want my vagina to be a man named Karl it’s more of a man than a women 

_Andrea

1. There is a lot of provocation in your work – is that something deliberate that you connect to on a personal level?

Yes. I don’t care if people like my work or not. I just want to cause a reaction. I can’t stand sitting on the fence. In life, I feel a need to be the center of attention, although I’m very insecure. I have a lot of built up anger. I don’t know if I deal with it well.

Growing up I felt being loud and blatant was the only way to be heard – unless you’re going to do something really out there you won’t be listened to it feels much easier for me to make an artwork about something than say how I really feel. Doing it with art I can tell my truth. However, this honesty, this can hide in the ambiguity of how my work might be interpreted by the audience. I know what my work really means, but as I haven’t stated it with my mouth, my truth can hide in the work.

2. What would you like people to take away from looking at your art?

I’d like it to stop people feeling fearful.

3. Could you tell us more about your current project ‘Karl’s Salon’?

When I was anorexic as a child, I’d wrap myself in cling film every night before bed. I thought it would make me thinner. It was so tight that I’d be bruised in the morning, but I was happy because I felt as though the cling film had held everything I wanted to say in. I’m still doing this kind of thing in my artwork, and especially in ‘Karl’s Salon’. It might look like a joke – making digital collages of fannies placed inside jackets, but in reality there’s so much pain behind it. I don’t dare talk directly about the pain. The fanny in the jacket is an abused fanny and I’ve put the fanny in there to protect it. A coat for me is protection and that’s one part of Karl’s Salon and the fannies in jackets – they have to be in jackets or coats because it’s a protection issue. It’s so vulgar but so insecure.

It’s also about how women are treated as sexual objects. This has been happening to women for ages, so I’ve taken fashion items from different eras, and blatantly placed my vagina in the neckline. On a surface level it’s like ‘hey I’m a walking vagina’ and have always felt that people treat me as an object because I am allowed to be treated as a sexual object and I have allowed myself to be treated like one. I wondered if women had always been treated like this – prostitution once being the most common female occupation. We’re also taught to use our sexuality in certain situations. So I wanted to explore this. Even though I hate the idea of using your sexuality to manipulate, I still sometimes use it in this way.

4. There is also a strong connection to fashion aesthetics– Are you a fashion person?

I like style, but I don’t like being on trend. To be on trend is horrific. I admire people who can put things together from all different eras, making new links and meanings out of them, and look good. The way fashion can sneak complex and challenging ideas and attitudes into the mainstream and create change is very important.

5. How would you describe your personal fashion style? Are you into fashion and shopping?

I like vintage 60s, 70s and gothic. I hate walking around shops, trying on clothes.

6. Who are the artists that you particularly admire? Who has been influential on your work?

I like Maurizio Cattelan. Jake and Dinos Chapman. Ben Coiacetto. Genesis Y Porridge.

7. Do you have a muse? How do you feel about the concept of an artist having a muse?

If you mean the traditional idea of a muse – it’s dull, heteronormative and limiting, isn’t it?  Society, history, – and so forth should be the artist’s muse. I don’t artists should be fixed on one thing but instead take inspiration from all kinds of people, places and things.

8. What about your background – how do you think that helps you in your art?

I think it feeds the need to be blatant

9. Do you think art reflects the society and culture accurately and does it still influence people or holds the same power in today’s social media obsessed society?

No, art does not accurately reflect society. There are millions of artists who are amazing, and do reflect society accurately, but will be forever obscure. People don’t want to look at art that reflects society accurately and merely use social media to make themselves look better. Social media allows everyone to become artists cultivating their own narcissism.  Sharing content seems relevant but done without much thinking about what is driving the content. The mass market avoids looking for meaning – it just does what it’s told.

10. Tattoos have become an important expression of self – What are your views on that? Are you a ‘tattoo’ person?

I like tattoos. I think sometimes they’re healing for people. Other times they’re for people who find it difficult to express their emotions, so they display them – they feel the need to express themselves to strangers so in this sense they are therapeutic and it is a form of art. I don’t really like commemorative tattoos though.

11. Film is another medium that has been adapted very successfully by artists and designers – where do see that relation head in the future?

I like collaborations, I think still photography will die and every image will be moving. Fashion sets a mood. It needs film to get the mood across.

12. Any films that have been influential on you, growing up?

Rita Sue and Bob 2 is one that sticks in my mind for all the wrong reasons. Only Lovers left alive stuck with me. I loved everything about it, especially the soundtrack. And I loved Tilda Swinton in it. I’m not an avid film lover but I do love serial killer documentaries. I listen to them whilst doing emails in the morning.

13. Masculinity has been in spotlight a lot in the last decade? Which famous personality or fictional character in your opinion defines the contemporary macho man – what makes him macho?

I don’t see any men as macho. I’ve always looked after myself. I don’ rely on any man to look after me. I’ve never been someone who thinks you need a man. I feel sorry for women who think they need a man to look after them.

14. Do you like this new Macho or do you prefer the classic ‘old school’ male?

I don’t think there is an old school male. Maybe in the context of mainstream cinema there is but I have not experienced neither of these ‘old school’ or new ‘macho’ males.

15. There is always a recurrent influence of porn on art aesthetics, what in your opinion makes for this bond between porn and art and is it something you touch upon in your work?

I touch upon it yes. I used to be very promiscuous. I thought it was the way to getting love and attention. It’s been ingrained and programmed into me. Even when I knew promiscuity didn’t work this way, I felt as though it’s all I had to give. I felt because I was an attractive woman, it’s all I’ve got to give. It’s hard to come to grips with this conditioned idea that as you get older your ability to manipulate with your sexuality fades away. There’s so much money in porn, and the VR revolution we are experiencing is coming straight out of the porn industry. Sex and survival is our most basic biological imperative so whichever way sex is being consumed en masse will always influence everything.

16. How in your opinion has feminism evolved in comparison to this new masculinity?

I did not know there was a new masculinity. I don’t understand this question. A lot of men are just conditioned by their mothers and have issues dealing with women who are in charge. One very interesting often recurring thing happening to me is when I ask a guy to do something and when they have not delivered to the deadline, they always use this excuse: ‘I was out with my son’. Does this translate as ‘I’m a real man and I’ve made a son. I’ve procreated. I can’t take criticism from a woman because you need me to fulfill human existence and so I’m not listening to you.’ The reception of criticism mutates into a retaliation driven by deep primal fears.

17. There is always a big debate on the role of the ‘Art School’ with strong cases for both ‘for’ and ‘against’ it. Where do you stand on it? Is art education still valuable or is it a ‘dying beast’?

I’m not into art school. There are a lot of life-changing things taught in art school but I don’t think it’s necessary. I think everything is idea based and revolves around how you execute ideas. I don’t think this can be taught in an art school environment.  It’s unfair too. Most people can’t afford to go. And who knows what is going to break through? We would never have predicted Trump and Brexit.  Art school doesn’t breed success.

Out of all the students one percent might ‘make it’. But are they the best artists that went to the art school? Or is it as simple as getting art to a market or knowing someone famous through sheer chance and getting a leg up. Art school looks like a self-perpetuating bubble. It provides superficial indicators enabling lazy judgments to be made about artists.

18. Should Art be ‘funded’?

Yes. There’s too much in the creative world that is not funded. There’s so many fashion designers with so much potential but simply can’t go anywhere because they don’t have the money to make their second and third collection. Art and fashion is becoming only for the privileged. I think there are a lot of people who do receive funding but don’t deliver – people who are great at writing proposals but missing talent.

19. Do you think the Art industry gives enough space and time to the artists or is it too burdened by the pressures of commerce?

It seems the same as any industry. It follows trends. It’s about whom you know and so on but to be honest I don’t work in the art world and I did not go to art school. I’m simply putting ideas on paper so to speak and seeing if people like them. I’m using art as a way to be honest and satisfy my urge to create.

20. Which categories of art excite you more? What do you see as the next big trends in the art world?

I like sculpture and performance. I loved Sarah Lucas at Venice Biennale 2015. I loved John Giorno’s performance for Ugo Rondinone at the very recent

‘Infinite Mix’ Hayward Gallery popup show. I don’t think there will be any overall big trends but more splintering pockets of trends. With all the different ways for people to communicate there’ll be many bubbles.

21. What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Writing an honest song.

22. What is next for you? How do you see your work developing in the coming years?

I’d love to do more performance art. My heart lies in music so it’s very important to combine my art and music

23. What’s your favorite Halloween costume?

Me in the morning.

24. What’s on your music playlist these days?

I actually don’t have one. I run a company that is signed to one of the biggest Japanese music publishers in the world. I work closely with a great writer Scarlets Game and so I’m listening to a lot of Jpop and Kpop. It’s like there’s 3 songs in each track. They’re very vibrant. It’s probably better to name my favorite songs. Number one would be Wanda Jackson, Tunnel of Love. Number two, In My Life by The Beatles. And for number three, ah, there’s loads of number threes.

All Photography by Kerri Megelus.
Image 6 produced in collaboration with artist Ben Coiacetto.
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