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Escapism and Safe Space: Claudia Six and her Imaginary Friends

Hi, I am Claudia, and I am afraid of people.

Hi, I am Helena, and I feel the same! And just between us, let’s be honest, after the experience of the pandemic and restrictions, the fear of closeness, and human connection for more than two years, even social butterflies have to bear the consequences of the trauma of isolation. Some of us carry the anxiety, insecurity and pressure triggered by social interaction in our bodies and minds. As social animals, we are drawn to the radiating energy of communities, relationships and friendships, but we equally fear rejection, expectations and conformity. And who could blame anybody for acknowledging their boundaries in a time of continuously facing horrifying news about the inhumanity of humanity and the decline of compassion, solidarity and unity?

The systems we inhabit identified an ever-functioning tool of control. We are made to fear each other.

Claudia Six Puppet

Being confronted with all this chaos, instability and unrest, we all seek for spaces to escape – sports and outdoor activities, social gatherings and events… For many of us, it is our imagination and the castles we build in our dreams. The artist Claudia Six offers a space for everybody who is not comfortable with human interactions and their dynamics, a space of comfort and self-love, a space of imaginary friends and unconditional tenderness. Claudia weaves an escape plan with the intention of self-exploration and -love, a place to find new companions to squeeze and cuddle, an environment that feels close and comfortable. Encountering her work opened the gates to a safe haven for all socially awkward hermits, those who just want to dream and flow effortlessly in the stream of their imagination. Almost like a cinematic revelation, the doors swing open, you are blinded by the light and then you see something so beautiful and exciting. You take a deep, comforting breath and just dive in.

Are you ready to join Claudia and me on this journey? Follow us through the interview in a world that is yours, hers, mine and ours.

Hi, I am Claudia, and sometimes I am full of hope.

Claudia Six Group

Exclusive Interview with Claudia Six

Can you introduce yourself (and, if you want, your imaginary friends too)?

Hi, I am Claudia, and I am afraid of people. Some would call me a misanthrope, but I am not angry enough. Thinking of it, though, sometimes I am very angry. I have avoided too much social interaction since I was a child, or actually, social interaction has avoided me, and I just got used to it. I found my imaginary friends very early in life, and I have marvelled at their bravery since then. My imaginary friends are grounded, and they love people. They are interested in what makes us humans human. And when I see them interacting in such a loving and curious way, I want to join in. I want to see the good in humankind, and I want to connect. Hi, I am Claudia, and sometimes I am full of hope. 

Claudia Six Childhood

When it comes to your creative practice, what are you passionate about? What do you really enjoy?

I am passionate about connection. I enjoy creating creatures, and I enjoy creating experiences. I am obsessed with emotions, with dreams and fear. As much as I am afraid of humans, I am also fascinated by them. It is crazy how much is going on in our bodies and minds. So I try to work with these things. I know that what I am creating looks like a fantasy world. But it’s not. It’s not fantasy. It’s more like the missing link in between. Like a laboratory, and in this laboratory, many strange creatures are working on understanding humankind. They do it with a lot of love, even though they love dogs way more. 

How did you start to work on the topic of escapism and introduce imaginary friends to your life?

I think all this started very early with me. I grew up being a normal and boring child, but we lived in a tiny village where my parents bought an old farmhouse. That sounds totally normal too, but back then, the people there didn’t like us much, so I didn’t have a lot of friends because nobody wanted to come and visit me in my “ugly” house (today, I would do everything for this beautiful old house). So in my head, I started playing the classic movie of the outsider, who is meant to be something more significant, somewhere else. Like in another world, I would have superpowers, and everyone was just waiting for me to arrive finally. That was my daydream forever. And it just never left me. Of course, this all is very long ago, but this is where it all comes from. I dream that there is a parallel world full of strange creatures, and I am their queen. 

Which mediums do you use to express and show this other space and reality? How is each medium important for this practice?

I work with animation, digital art, stop motion, photography, performance, sculpture and painting. And probably I forgot something here. I think I am working on expressing so many different things that I need so many different ways to tell my story. Puppets are fantastic storytellers; I adore them. I could never work without them; still, I sometimes go weeks without even touching a puppet. 

A friend of mine once said that I am weaving my own universe, and I have the feeling that’s exactly what’s happening. I am slowly weaving away, adding layer over layer of different little movies, pictures and performances until it is one colossal monster on its own. 

What does this universe look like? Could you describe the space you create through your work?

It is dark and light at the same time. It’s inviting, yet it’s scary. It is painted in black and white only most of the time. I like to think of it as a forest, like everything in there is growing and constantly evolving. It’s a space that one would enter cautiously but also curious. I wish all my creatures would have a small cloud of haze around them. I hope that the space I am creating also has a bit of fun and humour in it so that visitors would have the feeling they can sit down with my creatures for a good laugh too, or maybe you get eaten by them. In this world, you never know. 

Claudia Six Puppet Group

How do this imaginary place and friends connect to “reality”? How do you discuss issues of this world through imagination?

That’s a tricky question. Every time something terrible in this world happens (which would be like every second, but I am talking about the major “bad things” that make it into the media and our social media feeds), I am thinking a lot about how to address this. And if I even should. I mostly decide against commenting or trying to discuss things. I always try then to offer a space in my world. Like a sanctuary, a shelter from reality. That’s the only thing that I can really do. Inviting people to sit with my imaginary friends and maybe find a bit of comfort there. 

What world do you try to show your viewers, and is there an impact you wish to have?

Besides the comfort aspect of my work, there is also hope that with the empathy we can have for the inanimate objects that I am working with, we all can learn to have more compassion for the living objects right in front of us. I am using the term object on purpose because I think that we degrade so many living beings from subject to object that we forget how much love, emotion, and pain exist in all of us. This actually is how I create my world, out of enthusiasm and empathy for creatures typically not seen or well respected. I call my creations imaginary, but they are just shadows of all the little and big creatures in our world. And of us, in the end.

Claudia Six Friend

Claudia Six Social Media Accounts

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