Ananké Asseff


Ananké Asseff Self-Portrait

“Ananké Asseff’s diverse body of work includes photography, installation, video, interactive pieces, involving highly charged scenarios that evoke imagined and/or provoked fear and menace within individual and social constructs.

We know that language does not represent, but constitutes reality. Paranoia is Asseff’s theme; danger exists not as an occurrence, but as a hypothesis. The presumption of imminent danger loads her scenarios with tension. In early works, violence took on sexual iconography and was later embodied in social terms, where she photographed and filmed people who live with firearms in their houses (2005-2007).

In 2011, situations or motifs already present in certain photographs evolved in new formats such as sculpture or installation, where a profound conceptual coherence unites diverse pieces. The threatening potential of an enormous wave of mud (Untitled, 2011) originates in the impression of a moment that is frozen in the same way as a photograph. While photographs like The Secret Had to Be Unveiled capture an explosive climax, in this huge installation–pushing the exhibition space’s physical limits–the cataclysm is held in suspense, like the bloodshed in the interiors with guns in the Potential series.

In the installation Waking the Tiger, the moment that stands still is a more unsettling, more complex scene than the wave about to break. It is much harder to imagine this moment as a still within a temporal sequence, harder to imagine what might have come before and what might happen next. The confrontation between the young man and the tiger occurs at a moment both unique and eternal, an event bearing metaphysical weight. The beast is not in a stance of attack; the youth does not react with fear or alarm. Is it a question of the potential power of a confrontation that will take place, or a meditated dominion over the savage nature of the body that will last forever? Is the awakening tiger really in front of the young man, or is it purely a projection of his desire?
In her latest project, Bardo (a “complete mess” in local usage), photographic works feature authentic agonists, locked in a struggle whose cause and aims are unknown to us although we do sense its intensity. Something beastly echoes throughout this scene, where humans and horses intermingle. However, the notion that most captivates Asseff’s thoughts actually emerges from the Tibetan Book of the Dead : there, bardo designates a vital intermediate state of transition. This is precisely the zone of risk, the abyss of sorts that looms between one link and the next in this artist’s creative process. It may well be this ambiguous moment of lucidity, blindness and illumination that is portrayed in the sculpture of the young mare emerging from the primordial earth or irremediably sinking into it.” (source:

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