Image © Hanna Putz.
Hanna Putz has been selected as one of BJP's 20 photographers to watch in 2013
Author: British Journal of Photography
14 Jan 2013 Tags: Ones to watch
“I just think her composition, and the way she sees through subject matter to create a dynamic combination of graphic diagonals, is so special,” says Susan Bright. “One to watch without a doubt.”
The New York-based curator will include Hannah Putz in a fascinating-looking show she’s putting together for The Photographers’ Gallery in October, titled Mother & Child, alongside Elina Brotherus, Leigh Ledare and four others, all of whom are at least 10 or 20 years the photographer’s senior. Born in Vienna in 1987, Putz has never studied photography, starting out on the other side of the camera as a fashion model and getting into image-making relatively recently. But she’s already caught the attention of some influential people and was shortlisted for the photography prize at Hyères last spring, despite, or perhaps because of, the formalism Bright has noticed.
“Colours and composition are of importance to me – I like working with people as if I were working on a sculpture, moulding them together,” she says. “This is one reason I wanted to work with mothers and their babies, but it’s still about getting a feeling or an idea across, too. It’s never solely formal. I prefer to show ‘moments’ or compositions of two people together that might provoke a certain feeling within the viewer, rather than showing someone’s facial expression as a means of trying to say something. I’m trying not to expose anyone’s personal, private moments. For me, that should just stay with them.”
Her work is inspired by questions of authenticity, and what it means to “be yourself” in an age where photographs, and posing for them, have become ubiquitous. She originally became interested in photographing young mothers when she noticed they were less aware of the camera than other subjects. “I feel I am part of a generation that seems to be in a permanent ‘presentation mode’. Everything is photographed, posted, streamed, recorded and so on – ‘you’ exist, ready to be presented.
Image © Hanna Putz.
“Living in these times of permanent posing, I wanted to find ways of adding certain ‘ingredients’ to a shooting situation, so that the act of photographing someone would become somehow different. I started photographing friends who [had] just had their first babies, and noticed how different it was photographing people who don’t have their full attention on the act of being photographed as their attention is mainly on their child, and who are also in some kind of a transitional phase, as they are adjusting to the new role that has just been given to them.”
Putz shoots on film, preferring to concentrate on making pictures rather than constantly stopping to check them on-screen, and she admits to feeling overwhelmed by the flow of images in contemporary life. So, although she admires work by photographers such as Roni Horn, Paul Graham, Rineke Dijkstra and Philip-Lorca DiCorcia, she also looks to other kinds of artists for inspiration, and says she enjoys Franz West, Fischli & Weiss, Ryan Gander, Francis Alÿs and Tino Sehgal, for example – and “I adore Lucian Freud’s paintings”.
Still in her mid-twenties, and already making her name in the art world, she nonetheless prefers “doing things slowly on a trial-and-error basis”. Putz has one ambition for the future – “to progress”.
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