In Roadside Picnic, Strugatsky writes, “Xenology is an unnatural mixture of science fiction and formal logic. At its core is a flawed assumption—that an alien race would be psychologically human.”
Serwah Attafuah hails from the depths of Western Sydney. Her imagination oscillates between ancient mythology and extraterrestrial musings. Her work, from anarcho punk bands to fantasies of a mythological cyber-esh wasteland, is riddled with the identity politics of an escape artist devoted to beauty.
What is your earliest memory? I don't have too many early memories from this life but I vividly remember some of my past lives. I remember making a karmic pact with this alien, we were standing in a rice field. Call me insane, I don't care.
What has inspired you recently and why? Really tacky music videos especially old euro trance stuff (like sash! and System F). I went through a long period of hating any sort of videos, didn't watch any movies for years. I've also seen a massive rise in animated music videos this year due to Covid preventing film crews from shooting. It's inspiring to see the music industry embrace animators and artists in this way despite this tough situation we are all in.
What is your favourite place to visit and why? Would be sick to go to back Sooke in Canada again. I lived there when I was 12, it's an island full of hectic forests and beaches. The local shops were about a 2 hour walk from my house and it basically consisted of a grocery store, smoke shop and a music shop. The Netherlands is also very high on the list, was aiming to live there for a bit this year before the country locked down.
Does dreaming effect, influence or determine your creative work? It does and it doesn't. My dreams are very dull or nightmarish, I'll have dreams about going to Bunnings or something mundane. They can get pretty psychic though especially when it comes to people in my life. When I create my work I try to visualise places or things I wish I visited in my dreams, daydreaming is also very important because at least I have some sort of control over them.
How do you determine when a work is finished? It's pretty difficult to get to that point, especially If I've been working on the piece for days/weeks/months. I'm a pretty self-critical person and I overthink a lot so art seems to flow better when it's on the fly rather than mulling over it for ages. Lighting my artwork is definitely the longest process and sometimes I'll go through hundreds of lighting iterations before finally giving up and settling on something. It controls the whole mood of the piece so it's extremely important for me to get it right. I usually have to play the track live as many times as I can before really settle on the final sound of the song, recording a track before you've played it live is sinful.
Can you speak of some of your creative rituals and habits? Is the process for your art different to your music? No matter what it is, I pretty much have to isolate myself to be 100% happy in my creative process. It's difficult for me to collaborate with other visual artists or even write songs in rehearsals. My rituals have changed throughout the years, in my teens I used to get pretty drunk on Little Fat Lambs and watch Buffy whilst painting and drawing. I keep it pretty simple these days because art is my full time job; I have a coffee, couple darts, write a list of what needs to be achieved and get to it (very David Lynch). Music is quite loose with me, I'm no longer in any bands so I don't have any urgency to write anything. I would often get pretty inebriated the night before practice and just write it out. The lyrics for the NASHO records I sketched out in about 35 minutes virtually greened out in bed. I don't take writing music too seriously because I'll often throw all my ideas down the drain and freestyle it on the spot when the time comes anyway.