VAP2021-Q1 Words and Pictures

Digital malpractice on the surface of our screens: Anna Berghuis

Written by Raymond Hwang.

Encountering Anna Berghuis’s work feels like walking into a mirrored fun house, where not only your features are distorted but your emotional states as well. Colors are stretched, and forms are disjointed with the freedom and vigor you’d expect from a former athlete turned artist. I look at these works and I just want to scream “HELL YEAH, BREAK. EVERYTHING.” Anna takes our fixation with screens and puts our narcissism on full display. Look at yourself, your real self!

Over the course of this past year, where a global pandemic has forced artists to creatively adapt to the changing world at hand, Anna’s interest in what it means to inhabit a body is something we can all relate to. What does it mean to inhabit a physically deteriorating (yes deteriorating, we’re all slowly dying so let’s accept our mortality and move on) body in a world that’s gone and going further and further digital? As if the majority of our time wasn’t already spent in front of our screens, we now don’t have a choice! She challenges our notions of self here. What are the parts of ourselves that we choose to curate for our digital personas? We’re connecting in ways that once felt novelty but now turned primary. The way we interact daily; showing only our best perceived digital masks are in parallel with our mask-wearing physical realities. We see each other almost exclusively through the foggy lens of our screens.

The construction of these works seems natural to someone like Anna. Almost with a scrapbook-like, collage method where the parts are not held precious, she cuts and sews together her own various artworks to create these compositions that push against each other like fault lines. Snippets of textile suggest fashion, while close ups of faces that seem simultaneously familiar and grotesque suggest filter culture. In a society where filters run rampant and deep fakes are on the rise, it’s a terrifying thought. Anna makes me want to chuck my phone across the room and out the window. But it’s also the most expensive thing I own so I won’t do that. Yet.

Anna’s desire to break out the screen is shown in spades. The confines of the rectangle mean nothing to her, both in respect to her painting, and in her life as well. As former figure skater Anna would tell painter Anna, “Cover the ice!”

About the writer: Ray Hwang is an artist from Los Angeles, currently living and working out of Ridgewood, NY. He received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2016 and has participated in exhibitions in Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New Jersey and throughout New York City. One day he hopes to exhibit on the moon as well. More of his work can be found at or on instagram @rayhwangart.

About the artist: Anna Berghuis is a New York based visual artist. Berghuis’ work explores connectivity and identity in a digital world. Berghuis received her BA from Princeton University in Art History and Studio Arts. She currently works out of her studio in Chelsea. Her website is and her Instagram is: @annaberghuisart.