Video playlists from the most interesting people in the creative industries. We are the Desert Island Discs of internet video.

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Anna Liber Lewis

Much like the artist herself, Anna Liber Lewis’s large-scale paintings challenge the voyeur to look beyond the figurative and into the soul of the work. Having recently collaborated with life-long friend and musician Kieran Hebden (AKA Four Tet) on immersive exhibition Muscle Memory at West London art space Elephant West, Liber Lewis’s open-minded approach to art has seen her traverse a variety of mediums (including film), influences and outputs in order to find her voice—as well as her place—in the art world.

We asked her to talks us through six seminal videos from her life so far:

Vito Acconci, Theme Song 10 MINUTES

I fell in love with him [Vito Acconci] when I discovered him at art college—I can’t remember if it was at St Martin’s or at Newcastle—just being exposed to his work was so transformative for me. This one in particular felt like a key moment, I think it was made in the 70s, right at the beginning of when VHS had just come out and they were affordable and available to laypeople. Artists jump onto anything new and explore it. I just love his personality. If you look at more of his work he’s very, very playful and conceptual. It was always so mournful and longing and I loved his attitude to life. This piece is great because he’s trying to create this sense of intimacy with the viewer. I think maybe there’s a bit of nostalgia—that’s why I’ve picked some of these. Me and Kieran [Four Tet] talk about this feeling a lot: when you’re a certain age, like when you’re a teenager, and things hit you for the first time. That never really leaves me.

Bobby Baker, Cook Dems (1990) 4 MINUTES

She [Bobby Baker] was another figure I remember seeing at Newcastle University, I remember exactly where I was when I saw it, and I was just so intrigued by her! Here was this middle-aged woman making mad performances, and I didn’t really understand them at the time, but they carried a lot of weight as a woman, and it felt important as a woman watching it. They were always quite neurotic and about being a woman in the home and when I looked into her a little bit more she was very interested in looking at mental health and art. She’s had a really interesting career, where she didn’t go on to bright lights and fame, but she kind followed community outreach work. I think actually having not lived as much as I have now at the time I first saw it, I almost feel more resonance for her now. She’s really overlooked as an artist and she was just doing some really interesting things and I really think she needs to be seen more. I’m really thinking a lot at the moment about what it means to be a female artist and how women can hold each other up, it feels quite vital that we continue to do that and she just hit me between the eyes when I saw it and I didn’t know why.

Paul McCarthy, Painter 50 MINUTES

He [Paul McCarthy] was such a hero of mine when I discovered his work—I think he had a big show in London in the 90s or early 00s. It was just so immersive, and dark and threatening—I guess you’d describe it now as toxic masculinity, and abuse, but the painter I think is one of his lightest works. As a painter, it’s just so fucking funny because it’s so true. He’s sending up the image of the heroic male artist and I love his approach, the darker underbelly. As a painter, every time I watch Painter it gets me. It’s kind of what you do all day, you shuffle around the room, kind of whipping yourself and struggling. It’s also quite a decadent thing to do. It’s a funny binary between struggle and being in a really lovely position to explore your own feelings.

Peaches, Fuck the pain away 4 MINUTES

Peaches. So fucking great. I saw her perform at the Great Euston Hotel, in maybe 2000? It was a really exciting time and there were lots of art interventions in the hotel. They’d invited lots of curators to host events in the different rooms. I think Franko B had a room and it was all very hairy, lots of needles and blood—all very visceral. I researched her and found out that she actually started her music career later in life—I think she was 33 when she wrote The Teaches of Peaches—and I went back into painting later in life and she was such a fantastic role model. That song is just killer, you can relate to it quite deeply as a woman. I love the video, I’m so attracted to that stripped down, single frame. It’s just brilliant.

Brandy, I Wanna be down Remix feat. MC Lyte, Yo Yo & Queen Latifah 4 MINUTES

I wasn’t a huge Brandy fan, but I remember when she did this remix. I was into hip hop, and quite a lot of misogynistic stuff like Biggie and Onyx, but also the fun stuff. I thought the female rappers of that time, particularly MC Lyte, were so groundbreaking. She’s a really interesting character, and she was just so herself. I like the beat, I definitely have a little bit of a soft spot for R’n’B and swing from that time. I think the women of the time were getting a real hard time from the male rappers and they were having to up their bravado. They all started off so young and were having to navigate this really masculine industry and a lot of them really lifted each other up, rather than being competitive. I like the stripped down video, I like the fact that they’re totally covered up wearing big jackets and probably not in their sexy prime, slightly older. I just think that’s great. I remember reading Caitlin Morin, she wrote an article where she said feminism is only won when Rhianna does a music video with a cardigan on, and that kind of tickled me. I think we should be allowed to express ourselves however we want, so why not that, just in jeans and a top and just have the attitude.

Prince, Purple Rain (whole film)

Prince. I love him so much. When I discovered Prince, it was like, OKAY, this is another gear—discovering your sexuality and looking at this gorgeous, gorgeous man. He was just beautiful and everything about him was just fizzy, he was fantastic. I remember seeing the film for the first time and everyone saying, “Oh this is shit.” I was just like, “What are you talking about? This is genius!” I just loved the fact that nobody believed in his filmmaking. He made a lot of shit films, like stupidly shit, but he had to make them. It felt like this raw vital energy and I love it, I think I force everyone to watch it when I’m really drunk. It’s this amazing thing, with tune after tune.

Find out more about Anna Liber Lewis and her work at www.annaliberlewis.com

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