Something's in the air

Interview with Anaïs Senli

Barcelona-born Anaïs Senli has designed her "Peya" artwork specifically for our Motel One Barcelona-Ciutadella, using paper, wire mesh and foils. The titel is inspired by the science fiction novel Rocannon's World by Ursula K. Le Guin, in which travellers eat the fictitious Peya root in order to protect themselves in inhospitable environments.

Leaves, flowers and branches are floating as an abstract network through our bar - and their lively shadows continue their journey playfully on our walls as well. It seems almost as if the nearby park is growing directly into our lounge...

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10 questions for... Anaïs Senli

What are your origins as an artist? 
When I was very young, my mother, who was an art teacher, used to give me these enormous sheets of paper to draw on. And in some way, I’ve always felt very connected to the art world and to this form of expression. Later in life, when I left school, I decided to study art at the University of Barcelona. 

How would you describe Barcelona? 
As a city where I always feel at home - even though I haven't lived there for years.

When did you get into the artistic profession? 
It’s always been clear to me that despite how easy or difficult it is, this is what I want to dedicate my life to. After completing my degree, I won a few awards, but I think you really have to enjoy what you do. It’s really a question of drive and passion.

What is art to you? 
A tool for thinking. If it generates thought, it means that it’s working well. 

Which work best represents you and you feel most pleased with? 
That varies. With every piece there are things that I like more and others that I like less. There are times that I feel as though I identify with a piece and after a while I identify more with another. 

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  • Peya

Painter, photographer, drawer... how would you define yourself in relation to your work?
As an artist. I don’t believe in separating media. I change things up depending on my interest at each moment or in each project. 

What is your recipe for happiness? 
Always enjoying what I do. 

What was it about the project that attracted you to it?
I am used to staging a piece of work and then having to take it down after a while. But in this case, it’s been a whole new experience for me to create a piece that will remain at this location permanently, thus making it accessible to lots of people. I also really like that the piece is situated in the reception area and works like public art: not just the hotel guests see it, it’s anyone who walks past or is on their way to Parc de la Ciutadella or anyone who stops for a coffee.

What has been the process of developing this installation? 
The installation works like a type of three-dimensional drawing and I cut each piece of paper that makes up the piece by hand. I was interested in the fact that it was a manual job as we live in a digital era where processes are often completed in seconds. It appealed to me that this process took more time because this way you experience the passing of time by ultimately producing something. 

What message did you want to send with this piece for Motel One?
In this case, one of my references was the thinker Donna Haraway who contends that the current climate change forces us to seek new ways of thinking about our relationship with the environment. She has a vocabulary that is very rich in metaphors relating to animals and the organic world, and talks a lot about tentacular networks and interconnections. I was also inspired by forestry expert Peter Wohlleben, who claims that there are scientific studies that demonstrate that trees communicate through their roots and operate like a sort of network. All of this is featured in the installation.  

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