Some of your images suggest a quiet complexity. The body is contorted, but is presented in a relaxed posture, between consciousness and abandon. What is your relationship with your models? Do you direct them?
My work mainly consists of images of people being with themselves for themselves, rather than presenting themselves for anything or anyone. Even in unnaturally composed postures, people still don’t seem to be posing for the camera – the presentation aspect of it is missing. It is about solitude, but not in a negative or lonely way. It is about being oblivious to all around one and being close to one’s self. We are living through a time when we are flooded with stimuli and images, and I enjoy it when people seem as if they have been left undisturbed. The more complex composed images also function as a reminder to the viewer that what they’re looking at is a composed reality. It is not a real moment I’m trying to depict – something that photography often claims to do.John Berger, in his fundamental essay Ways of Seeing, said there is a distinction to be made between an image of someone nude and one of someone being naked: “To be naked is to be without disguise. To be nude is to be on display”. Are the people portrayed in your photographs naked or nude?
They are nude. The nude to me implies awareness of being seen. The people are not naked as they are, they are naked as the viewer sees them. It is not about showing someone naked, in their most real and intimate state, to be presented to, or even judged by, the viewer. Even when naked – or especially when naked – the people in my images are not involved with, or available to, the viewer in any way. Most of the time nudity in painting or photography, as I see it, has nothing to do with being ”real”or ”free”– it’s just another uniform. When depicting nakedness I feel a sense of truthness to oneself or closeness with oneself, which is a major concern in my work. It is something that comes across if ever and only through the glance, the look or the feeling of the person in the image. That’s where people are recognised for what they ”really” are, what or how they really feel - not in the fact of being naked, shown without clothes.In this photograph, you photograph a child along the woman. You recently did pictures representing babies, often being held in someone’s arms, hugged, their body often merging with that of the mother in a sort of carnal fusion. This seems to be an increasingly common occurrence in your work. Why?
When I started working with photography, I photographed mainly models, since I was working as a model myself, and most of them were close friends of mine. If you work as a model you are obviously very aware of how you come across in a photograph; you’re very present in the moment of being photographed. My interest, however, wasn’t in photographing them as models, within a fashion context. My work is concerned with questions about the notion of posing for a photograph and, beyond that, questioning the means of identity through posing. I wanted to see what actually happens during the moment of photographing somebody with their child, which turned out to be very different. Attention is fully focused on the child. There is a separation from the self-conscious awareness of oneself and the focus on posing is in a way removed. In this respect the act of photographing becomes inherently
different. I became interested in photographically questioning what motherhood meant – not only the emotional characteristics of it, but also the physicality of it. The media representation of being a mother as a model, for example. I am fascinated by this societal demand for women of my generation to be beautiful and successful in their career and motherhood all at once, and how the media representation of models being mothers fuels this.
Limited edition, numbered and signed.
Selected shows and awards
Letzte Lockerung - Hommage an Walter Serner, SKW Neuer Kunstverein Wien, Vienna, Austria, 2015
Zwischen Kraft und Krise, Lenton Museum, Linz, Austria, 2015
The Vacancy, Galerie Crone, Berlin, Germany, 2015
Crocodile, Autocenter, Berlin, Germany, 2015
Nadezhda, Biennale de Moscou, Moscow, Russia, 2015
Porn, Porn, Porn, Eigen+Art LAB, Berlin, Germany, 2015
New Needs, Spalt Haus, Niederosterreich, Austria, 2015
Destination Wien 2015, KUNSTHALLE Wien, Vienna, Austria, 2015
Let's Mingle, Franz Josefs Kai 3 (BAWAG Contemporary), Vienna, Austria, 2014
Junge Osterreichische Fotografie, FOTOHOF, Salzburg, Autriche, 2014
Photography's Next. Don't Stop Now. FOAM Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2014
Home Truths. Photography, Motherhood and Identity, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, USA, 2014
Self-discovery and self-invention at the boundaries of understanding, Moscow, Russia 2014
Mother Lode, group show with Elina Brotherus, Leigh
Ledare, Janine Antoni, The Photographers Gallery, Londres, curating Susan Bright, Oct. 2013
New Somatographics, group show with Robi Rodriguez, Jamie Hawkesworth and Daniel Sannwald, 50-1 Gallery, Cyprus
MAKE ME LIKE IT – Die neuen Schnellen, group show with Daniel Richter, Amelie von Wulffen, Birgit Megerles, Vacant Galleries / Viennafair, Vienna, curated by Adrian Buschmann
Shortlisted Photographer, ’1000 Words Photography Award 2012’
Shortlisted Photographer, International Festival of Fashion and Photography, villa Noailles, Hyères, 2012
Hussein Chalayan, Grey Line, group show, Embankment Gallery Show Space, London, 2012
No fashion, please!, group show with Viviane Sassen,
Alex Prager, Bruce Weber, Philip Lorca di Corcia, Leigh Bowery, Tracey
Baran et Jeff Bark, KUNSTHALLE, Vienna, curated by Peter Weiermair,