Hanna Putz is an Austrian artist based in London who primarily works in photography. Her approach has a precision that captures fragments of life that are hard to define as real or staged. Her work has been exhibited at Foam Museum Amsterdam, The Photographers Gallery, and at the 2016 6th Moscow Biennale as well as being published in, Zeit Magazin, I-D, Wallpaper* and Dazed&Confused among others. To launch the Ace & Tate Creative Fund she was commissioned to produce a series of photos and will continue serve as an ambassador for the scheme. We caught up with Hanna to ask about her role and the Ace & Tate Creative Fund.
What advice would you have for individuals who are looking to gain further recognition for their work?
Funds like this are a great way of getting your work out there as well as getting the financial support an artist needs. Furthermore, it’s an opportunity for established figures in the industry see your work. Even if you aren’t selected, see it as something worth investing your time in, as someone from the jury might keep you in mind for something else. I would, however, suggest to take a close look at what your applying for, as there are many schemes out there at the moment and actually only a few are worth applying for; a great jury, the right context and a sufficient amount of support to realise a project.
How should individuals view an opportunity like the Ace & Tate Creative Fund?
It’s a great way to get an opinion and be supported by an established board, as well as financial support in order to freely produce the work you are passionate about.
What advice do you have for people who might be pitching a project to the fund?
In my opinion it is good to keep things short and clear rather than long and confusing. Try to make a point in what you want or what it is about. Most importantly; don’t think too much about people giving you advice on how to do your thing – it’s yours.
What sort of projects would you hope to see delivered under the scheme?
I personally like projects that come from a different, genuine point of view even if they’re maybe ‘off’ rather than projects that might be great but that one has seen many times before. I prefer the experimental to the perfect.
To accompany Hanna’s images, curator and writer Sandra Petrasevic was commissioned to write about the work. Below is her article.
Each of the carefully selected fragments that Hanna Putz extracts from her photographs are positioned in a way words form a sentence, so that they all become part of one resoluble object. Splintering, assembling, letting certain parts recur if needed is illustrating the postmodern notion and her handling of an ever-broadening sight. Due to her preference for questions rather than answers and intuitively encompassed obstructions instead of guidelines, an established codifying is rendered redundant. The only constant is the state of flux, which allows for the enfolding of multiplicity and expansion.
In myths, oracles usually appear to not mind the possibility of their cryptic messages being misunderstood. They give riddles without specifying the meaning; requested further hints only create more confusion. In literature, an encounter with a sage will involve some playing with the protagonist’s preconceptions and assumptions he relies on, and this will liberate the hero in some way. In any case, the receiver of the message will filter the heard or seen information through his own bias and will actually pick up only parts of it. Hanna Putz assembles single photographs to a chain, like words to a sentence. One can sense that there is a reason for them being positioned in exactly this way, yet the statement of the artist remains undisclosed. The likelihood of disaccord between the observer’s interpretation and her intention is almost welcomed by her, viewing it as a conversation in differing languages.
Each element of those temporary collages stands in dialog with all the other parts the picture consists of at that particular moment. Compiled to one work, they become a demountable unit. The fragments staying unattached and thus being separable again is an important aspect of her work, as she refuses to commit to guiding principles. Any fragment could possibly recur in one of her following assemblages.
Rather than establishing rules she defines obstructions she has to follow, knowing precisely and navigating by what she does not want. This approach mirrors her general view of life as well as i.e. the impact an infinite stream of images has had on all of us. By having access to so many diverse snippets of worldviews, our own stance is bound to change constantly. This is about the only constancy in today’s world, when all the isms have failed, who is to claim absolutes and universalities? We are also more aware of our own various currents regarding moods, needs and opposing parts of our personality. Hanna Putz takes numerous drifts into account and merges conflictive parts of her photographs.
She manages to incorporate the plain record keeping quality of photography and an approach that is more kindred to a different medium: in the way a painter chooses a palette, Putz selects fragments of her pictures.
When painting lost some of its key duties to photography, it had to reinvent itself, when photography wanted to advance its status and become an art form; it mimicked the characteristics of painting that still belonged to its realm. With the evoking of sentiments being the main goal, photographers intentionally took grainy, blurry photos; they worked on a single motive repeatedly and experimented with poses instead of merely recording a moment.
It is hard to tell which pictures of Putz’ oeuvre are staged and which fall into the category of stumbled across motives as she values and uses both methods, sometimes it is even more difficult to not mistake them for a painting due to their quite granulous and somewhat diffuse aesthetic. All of her pictures have this sublime quality; they are graceful even if the theme would normally summon frost and emptiness. So, while Hanna Putz is skeptical regarding overarching assertions, she tries to capture and embrace multiplicity on her continuous expedition through existence and theory whilst supplying us with ever more questions, demonstrating gently along the way that there is no real need for definite answers.