H. Amanshauser: For several years, you were more or less the only figure in your video works. How do they relate to your performances?
E.-L. Semper: There is no direct or systematic link between them. I have done several performances but I did them outside of what could be called »the main line of development« in my video work, and I have not done performances as consistently as videos. I have performed in my videos myself as it would probably be very inconvenient for someone else to fulfil my extreme demands. And besides, I have never really liked the idea of being violent with someone else.
H. Amanshauser: These works have a lot to do with borderline experiences like pain, loneliness, despair, being tortured etc. Do you see a correspondence with the feminist art of the 60s and 70s, like Gina Pane or Valie Export?
E.-L. Semper: No, not really. I don’t feel very connected to that generation of feminist work. I had no awareness of that kind of work during the years of my development. And besides, I am very much afraid that certain images of violence are more often treated with a unifying approach than other kinds of images. Violent imagery demands quick explanations, and this can lead to deceptive conclusions. Indeed, it seems a little perverse to distinguish all the fine nuances and degrees of »the sense of being tortured«. But I think we have to be more specific and more distinctive in these matters. If you start to ask more specific questions about how and why I work and about the context from which I come, the illusion of correspondence falls apart.
H. Amanshauser: Tell me, what would be the right questions to ask in order to find out how and why you work and from what context you come?
E.-L. Semper: It’s quite hard to explain how I work, and I really do not like to describe all the »secret« meanings behind each work. Let’s say that I am trying to awaken subconscious memories about everybody’s human experience of being here and now, as my ideas arise from my own thoughts and convictions and I do believe that, on the deepest level, the viewer could feel the same.
Interview Hildegund Amanshauser with Ene-Liis Semper, 2003