Sasha Gold is an artist with a challenging story; she said “no” to her father’s hopes, and became an artist after the age of thirty without any formal art training. As a former criminal-defence lawyer, she realised that the corporate environment was causing her stress on a daily basis and realised that art, her passion, could heal her. I talk with Sasha about her story, challenges and dreams.
Sasha, can you tell us a bit about your background to
I grew up in Hamburg, where I still live. Right after my high school graduation, I started to study law. I think mostly because I was seeking my dad’s approval. My mom didn’t want me to. I remember her being worried that studying law would make me unhappy. She always said I should do something creative. Although I had a good relationship with my mother and a bad one with my father, I ignored my mom’s untypical warning.
Anyway, I did the law-thing and was very good at it. By the age of 28, I was a criminal-defence lawyer and ran my own office. For several reasons, I decided to quit after a few years. And recently I took a new path starting to work as an artist. It is funny that my mother was right in the end.
When did you realise that art is your passion?
Ever since childhood, I have been a creative being. And even during my law studies, I always devoted time to art. I did abstract spray art on canvas and various installations at festivals. The more work I had, the less leisure I had to pursue this passion. Certainly, I never had time to realize big art projects, nor the space to do it. However, I’ve always felt best when being creative. This year a lot came together so that I had the time and a place to realize my debut project as Sasha Gold.
You used to be a lawyer – What challenges have you faced on the way
to becoming an artist?
First of all, there are still challenges to manage on my way to being a professional artist. I know this is an ambitious task, but I am somehow really optimistic and calm about my future in this field. It just feels right. The way to get here was hard, though. I was suffering a lot from mental stress, especially during my law career. Right after I started to work as a lawyer, I became more mentally stressed, and eventually became quite ill. I was feeling very responsible for my clients, navigating what I felt were injustices in the legal system was difficult to bear, and the workload was heavy. Also, I tend to be very self-critical. I felt like there was no way out except for quitting. After two other attempts performing a job in the legal field, I noticed that despite a lower workload, the symptoms of stress did not subside. So I decided to end my legal career. In retrospect, I think one of the reasons I got so stressed was that I had to work against my actual personality and nature every day in that environment. Also, I would say, the reason to start this career was the wrong one from the beginning. The goal, that I unconsciously wanted to achieve with it, namely the love of my father, was an impossible one. I’ve been feeling much better since working seriously on my artistic career. I can’t remember actually ever feeling better.
Recently you finished a big art project with the ‘sparkling car’,
how did you come up with the idea?
Different things led to this idea. In the beginning, there was a junk car, a Saab 900. So the first car I ever bought, was a junk car. And this happened last year. I bought it for a small music-festival, that some of my friends and I have been organizing for a few years. I made small dancefloor installations and decorated the whole floor in a ‘Junk-Style’. The car, which we highlighted with golden spray-colors was standing on the dance floor and people were dancing on it and sitting inside it to chill. It was cool. So this junk car was left with marks from people dancing on it. I had this idea of tranforming this former status symbol into something glamorous and beautiful. So my mind somehow liked the idea of using mirrors as an epitome of narcissism. I found all the mirrors for free, broke them into many many pieces, and glued them one by one on the car.
The title of this object is “Why not? Everybody’s darling”. Sometimes there can be a self-destructive way in a strong search of recognition from others.
People do different things to be liked. Sadly, there are still specific gender roles. Women are often brought up to please everyone. I am claiming the term “everybody’s darling” is most often used for women, not for men.
And how do women reach being liked? I think there are two main ways: Being nice in a charming way and looking good. To be successful for example often does not help that much. So I decided, that in contrast to ordinary cars, that are generally connected to the “male world”, everybody’s darling is a “she”. This aims to raise awareness, that women are still mainly judged by their outer appearance. There is still a lot of pressure if you are seen as a woman in this society and you don’t fit the expectations of how you should look and what you should wear. For example, I liked when I heard that women, like Kirsten Dunst and Marion Cotillard refused to wear high heels at the Cannes Film Festival. Things are changing all over the world, but we are still not where we should be. For example, no matter what I do or what I achieve, my looks are still the main reason why I get compliments, even in my non-conservative friendships.
Are you satisfied with the final result?
Yes, I am. She is the beauty that I wanted to create.
How has your art been affected by the recent lockdown in Germany?
The lockdown had a huge impact on the realization. Without the corona-crises, it wouldn’t have been that easy to find a place to do it. I am living in a flat without a garden. So after I had the idea for this project I needed to find a place where I could work on a junk car, which is not allowed to just stand in the streets. There is not much space in cities for everyone to be creative without spending a lot of money. There´s this festival-venue in Hamburg, where normally the Dockville-Festival and the Artville-Festival happens each year. After it was clear that this was not going to happen this year, I had the idea to ask them if I could do my project on their venue. Luckily, they immediately said yes. So I had an empty festival-venue the whole summer basically to myself. That was a luxury position and I could do my art in a creative environment. I was surrounded by other art and all the empty dancefloors, it was such a great time. Being outside in a non-crowded place was important this summer for a lot of people and especially in cities not so easy to realize. I am thankful for this opportunity, that the supportive team of the Dockville-Festival gave me.
Do you think art is healing in terms of mental health?
Definitely. No matter what kind of art you do, if it is painting, music, or theatre, you are working with your whole experiences and all your inner feelings on it. It is personal. You kind of translate your “inner you” into a piece of art. And of course, it is also a way to deal with pressures or aspects of society that affect your life. No wonder there is this whole field of art therapy. In general, people should be more encouraged to be creative. Many people stop doing this when they grow up. Perhaps this has to do with how art classes at school give children a certain competitive pressure to be good. After school it is like this for most people: Either they are really “good” and study art or choose another creative profession, or they just stop sitting down and for example inking a picture. But nobody has to study art to be an artist. And the picture does not have to be suitable for hanging in a gallery for it to be eligible to be painted. It is a good reason just to do something to feel good, not everything should be judged by the productive outcome. But this is something our society should be more aware of. And even if you are one of the people who stopped using the creative energy, you can start again, no matter what age you are. Just risk it. After all, consuming art can also be beneficial in terms of mental health. To indulge in your thoughts in a museum, which pops up when looking at a piece of art or to watch a play that processes similar experiences that you have had yourself. Or just listening to a great song you like. It can all be very inspiring.
What are your plans for the future?
In the short term, I want to exhibit “Why Not? Everybody’s Darling” indoors, but I still need to decide which venue fits the best. From the beginning on I thought that Everybody’s Darling should play a role in a nice music video. In the Pop-World I thought of two artists until now, with whom I would like to see Everybody’s Darling: Hayiti, the rapper from Hamburg – I like her music style and attitude. And internationally, I am a huge fan of ALMA. And I definitely need to find a good way to finance my art. I am planning a big project where Everybody’s Darling will be a part and shine in a different light. Besides that, I have some ambitious long-term goals concerning my art-career. Of course, there are some big venues, where I dream of exhibiting someday. Like Tate Modern and MoMa. Last but not least, there is one person in the art world, who I adore and I wish to work with her / her collection one day/in the future, Julia Stoschek. She has an amazing art collection and a great taste in art.
For now, Everybody’s Darling can be seen in a short film by Patricia Carolin Mai, an amazing dancer/performer from Hamburg (KONTROL @ Artville). And we are featured in Arthole Magazine #5, a UK magazine. In addition, it will be exhibited at an art festival in Hamburg (Artville) next year.
Finally, can you please share your motto and your favourite quote?
My favorite quote is by Simone de Beauvoir: ‘What is an adult? A child blown up by age‘. And my motto would be: Never let fear lead you and never be ashamed of your dreams.