About the part that art plays in a globalising society

Framer Framed

Anan Striker - De muurschildering / Werkplaats Molenwijk

Interview: Back to the Drawing Board With Anan Striker

The residency of Anan Striker (1988) in Werkplaats Molenwijk is coming to an end. There was swinging, playing football, painting, and above all: both young and old mastered thinking by hand. “It makes me happy that I was able to send them home with a new experience.”

text Bien Borren
July 2022

Just under a month after the start of his residency, Anan Striker was still searching, all the more so because the artist did not have the workshop to himself. At the time, the former garage was still used for the previous exhibition. This has now come to an end, and the workshop breathes Striker. The various projects he conceived of and implemented over the past three months can be found in joyful installations. The mill-winged goalkeepers are lined up, the jugs of referee paint are present in large numbers, the swing is on show, and on the once so bare wall we can see not only the members of the Korean K-Pop band Blackpink, but also cheerful rats and ventilators. Striker: “For that Molenwijk vibe.”

Part two of an interview diptych with Werkplaats Molenwijk artist-in-residence Anan Striker. Also read the first part “Extraordinary twists and turns in Molenwijk with Anan Striker”.

How have you been since we spoke?

“I´ve been well. It has really become my space now. Last time I had my desk and that was it. Now I’ve touched just about every wall, and that feels good. I’m happy with how it turned out. In fact, everything that has taken place has been successful. With the first event being the alternative game of football. That was very sweet and intimate. Not all fifteen flats were found on the field, but the quality contacts I was looking for were certainly there. There was football, but the spray cans were used too, so it was one big chaos, just as I hoped. And yes, at one point someone stepped in dog poop and that´s sad, but that also passes. Afterwards I wondered to what extent this is art. Although that is a vague concept, and I am not necessarily looking for an answer. But a football match is definitely different from an exhibition in a white cube. Let me put it this way: I hope that the next time those children see a spray can on TV, they think: “Hey, I played with that in Molenwijk the other day.” I was happy with the energy that was present and that I could send children and their fathers and mothers home with a new experience. That also applies to the mural here in the workshop.”

Anan Striker

Anan Striker – The wallpainting / Werkplaats Molenwijk

Yes, tell me, who are those ladies?
“They are Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé and Lisa from the South Korean K-pop band Blackpink. It was four girls from the neighbourhood who inspired me to make this mural. I like to invite people to draw and had left an invitation to draw on the window. On the first day, those girls dressed the windows in pink and black and left all kinds of references to their favourite band. I had never heard of Blackpink myself, but I recognized their deep affinity with a girl band. When I was their age, I had similar feelings for the Spice Girls. It’s exactly the same, but a different generation. After those girls left, I picked up where they left off and made it into one piece. When those kids came back the next day and saw their idols, their jaws dropped. They knew exactly who was who. What I like about this action is that this ended up being the sketches for the painting outside. I was already working on that at the time and these K-pop paintings helped in that process. I really like an unfinished painting style, and you can see that both here and on the exterior painting.”

You have physically made the space your own.
“Yes, and that was necessary, especially to feel comfortable here. And when the windows became available to leave messages on, there was immediate interaction. That gives you energy and then you are no longer that lonely artist-in-residence.”

It must have been cool to see the reaction of those girls when they came back.
“Definitely. And it was also a nice exercise for me. Because what matters to me is that they had the freedom to do what they wanted and have an experience they didn’t have before. I like that more than giving them an assignment – as a kind of master. They actually came up with their own assignment and I only provided the material.”

Anan Striker - De muurschildering / Werkplaats Molenwijk

Anan Striker – De muurschildering / Werkplaats Molenwijk

Was it difficult not to act as an expert?
“No, it came naturally. But at some point you will take control again. I do that after they’re gone, then I’ll paint over things. With respect, and copying is also a game. Do you see this layering? I really like that one, that you can see several layers shine through. And these dripping stripes create a kind of curtain. That gives the work, which is quite flat, depth. Those fragmentary planes make it spatial.”

Eventually this painting will disappear, as will the referee paint drawings on the soccer field, and one of your swings has already been removed. Is your work always temporary?
“Hmm. You mean whether it is a coincidence or a conscious choice during this residency? I’m not sure, but the temporality appeals to me. That they are really happenings and that you should have been there to experience it. That large mural outside will probably also disappear one day, but I don’t mind. It is about the experience of the participants. And my own experience. No one can take that away from you.”

Anan Striker - De muurschildering / Werkplaats Molenwijk

Anan Striker – De muurschildering / Werkplaats Molenwijk

The last time we spoke, you talked about your plan to step outside of your own artistry and get in touch with people you don’t easily come into contact with through your work. Was that plan successful?
“I believe so. Over the past three months I have really done something different than how I would normally have worked. Artists are often a kind of ego trippers. You get a job, get paid for a mural, maybe you involve another person. And then you work on the concept that you came up with yourself. Meanwhile, passers-by usually have their doubts: ‘Do I like it? Do I even agree with the idea?’ That was really different now. I involved the neighbourhood in the project, something I wouldn’t otherwise do, but it paid off. Fifteen of us stood there working on the wall at the same time, right through each other, each for themselves and yet also collectively. And this time passers-by walked past, and they saw: this is for and by the neighbourhood. Then it is suddenly easily accepted. Everyone liked it. Well, I’ve never heard that in my career as an artist, haha. So yes, people like it.”

Anan Striker – The wallpainting / Werkplaats Molenwijk

To be heard or to be involved?
“Maybe both. The fact that it was done by people from the neighbourhood and not by a subsidized artist, turns out to be very valuable. It has become very personal. On the outside wall are stories of deceased fathers, loyal pets, that one friend who is in prison, and a son who is no longer with us. Pretty intense stuff. The main thing is that everyone thought it was cool to paint on such a large wall as this one. That was palpable. With the young children, but also with the tough guys from the neighbourhood. Adults, however, had more difficulty picking up the brush. When I handed them a piece of chalk, they would say: ‘Oh no, I can’t draw.’ They have lost the open-mindedness of children. Kids start somewhere, just put something on the wall. The adults who did venture, took more time. You can see those different types of attention on the wall, the result is somewhere between elaborate and fragmentary. That’s what you get when you let all kinds of people work on something, because everyone’s hand is unique. I’d also like to reflect this in my autonomous work.”

Was it hard for you as a solo artist to suddenly have to work with so many different people?
“I think it’s an intense approach, but I always feel that way when I work with others. You want to achieve a certain kind of result, and here I also had to deal with the aesthetics of others.”

So it was an exercise in letting go of your own perfectionism?
“Yes. Sometimes it turns out surprisingly well and sometimes you think: “I wish I had done that.” If you do it yourself, you can safely push the boundaries, but that wasn’t enough now. I felt pressure that this had to turn into something. If only two people had made a scribble, it would not have become a convincing collective work. I needed all these contributions to make this a success.”

Anan Striker - De muurschildering / Werkplaats Molenwijk

Anan Striker – The wallpainting / Werkplaats MolenwijkIs ‘thinking by hand’, your adage and also the title of your exhibition, easier for children?
“Yes, and I regret that somehow. Because drawing can bring a lot of fun and freedom. A woman told me that she had last drawn when she was three years old. But she said she liked it, and she planned to do it again. Children don’t feel reservations. They just start. And that sometimes leads to scrawling, but if you look at art history, you see it there too. Take Jackson Pollock, for example, who threw with paint. Then I also find this scrawling to have a certain artistic value. Those kids do it with ease, but when you get older you have to learn it again.”

Apart from letting go of control and letting something come about, what have you gained from this mural?
“That you can get a lot of energy when you work with others who are happy with what they do. I kind of lost sight of that.”

As a person or as an artist?
“As an artist. Like I said, you want to paint that wall by yourself and take full credit. But I discovered that it is very nice to see people let go together. Yes, that was really cool.”

So, in summary, during this residency you, Anan the artist, have learned what it means to work haphazardly with people, what it does for them and what it brings to you?
“Yes. And then the haphazardness is important to me here. I’ve always loved working together, but they were mostly people I’d chosen myself. The spontaneity, I really rediscovered that.”


At Werkplaats Molenwijk, part of Framer Framed, artists have been temporarily taking up residence since 2019 with the aim of creating new work in collaboration with the neighbourhood. With these residencies, Framer Framed aims to create a place where art and culture go hand in hand with new encouters and collaboration. Anan Striker is the seventh artist to be active in Molenwijk. His residency runs until June 2022. More about Anan Striker

Amsterdam Noord / Molenwijk / Residencies /


Exhibition: Thinking with the Hand

By Werkplaats Molenwijk artist in residence Anan Striker


Finissage: Thinking with the Hand
Festive closing of Anan Striker's exhibition in Werkplaats Molenwijk
Football match Molenwijk
An alternative football match organised by artist in residence Anan Striker


Photo of Anan Striker

Anan Striker