Women Crush Wednesday: Eeva Hannula
Born and lives in Helsinki, Finland, Eeva Hannula received her M.A. in Photography from Aalto University School of Art, Design and Architecture in Helsinki and a B.A. in Aesthetic from University of Helsinki. Her work has been exhibited in Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin; Sous Les Etoiles gallery, New York; Gallery Lapinlahti, Helsinki, FI; State Museum and Exhibition Centre for Photography Rosphoto, St. Petersburg, among many others. Hannula received grants from Arts Council of Finland, Travel Grant from Frame and Finnish Cultural Foundation. She was also selected as one of the artists for Foam Talent call 2013 of Foam magazine. She is represented by Gallery Taik Persons, Berlin and Sous les etoiles gallery, New York. View more of her works here.
Interviewed by Jing Zhao
How long have you been working on The Structure of Uncertainty?
I have been working on The Structure of Uncertainty since 2011. Back then I felt that all my photographs were too controlled and mute, and that I couldn't express myself enough with only photography. I started to look for my own imagery and discovered a way to combine surprising visual elements with each other. I see making images as writing, to me it's restructuring and rethinking the original essence of a thing. In my opinion, using fragmentary images is similar to using words, I can build different layers of traces with them, which in turn work as metaphors. Uncertainty is always the moving force behind my photographs and my artistic process.
What kind of visual experience do you want to create through this body of work?
I want to use my photos to create conflicting imagery and visual experience. André Breton referred to the experience a reader has with surrealist poetry as short circuit. The poetical image was supposed to be so strange that it would bypass the familiar logic of the mind and its customary circuits.
In the same way I hope that my photographs will create a kind of short circuit in the viewer, an experience that will disrupt the familiar ways of perceiving things and therefore create uncertainty, confusion and a sense of bafflement over what is real and what completely constructed in the images. In short, I want to create disturbing, surprising and strange imagery with my photos, imagery that is simultaneously controlled and uncontrolled and forces you to feel and think.
Your choice of color in this series fascinates me, as to me, it’s very much about fragmentation, adding fragments together in unexpected way and act as additional layers to the image. Could you talk about your concept of color more specifically?
Colors in my images are often vast and expressive color fields that I have created either digitally or physically. I see them as expressive since they express something in themselves, with their substance, that escapes words. They force you to look at them. I feel that in my work I employ color in a sense in the wrong way when it comes to the traditional rules of photography. The ground rule of photography being that reality and its colors must be presented as accurately as possible is distorted in my works since the color fields go against this idea. Bright primary colors are open semantic fields onto which everybody can project their memories and senses. To me colors represent extreme emotions. A mood or an emotion can color the whole image. Colors are metaphors, layers that tell of another time than the underlying archival image. On the other hand, colors bring forth the contstructedness of the image and highlight its surface. There's something childlike and simple in the primary colors. They compress and abstract the colors of reality into a more simple form so that we can perceive them.
You also use personal archive material. But instead of presenting them as the way they are, you choose to recreate them. There is an interesting idea that you embrace the photographs or videos in terms of their essential characteristics as objects and thus provide more possibilities in re-finding them. What’s your thoughts on this?
I have used a lot of archival photographs and super 8 films that came to my possession after my father passed away. I believe that when I work on the old archive materials subconscious or bodily memories can surface that filter through and appear in the pictures as traces and acts. I see myself writing old material anew, creating with my images a kind of strange emotional archive that includes fragments of reality but also of imagination. Using different fragments enables me to condense several different layers of time into a single frame, or to create several varying perspectives into a thing through diptychs and triptychs. My works are like palimpsests. I never know beforehand what kind of traces an old archival image will get on its surface, and what I will combine it with. An old archival picture or a still from a csuper 8 might entail countless dormant possibilities and fragments that combined create new metaphors.
Would you describe yourself as a surrealist artist?
Partly, yes. One of my favourite artists is René Magritte. The idea in Surrealism that something familiar can be seen as bizarre and wonderful fascinates me. The strangeness or a kind of distortion of reality in an image is the strength of photography in my opinion. There remains always a trace of reality in a photo even if it was shattered into pieces. In my experience the essence of things is not permanent, also I want to see the familiar in a strange light and combine unrelating things with each other, so in this sense I am a surrealist artist.
1. How would you describe your creative process in one word?
2. If you could teach one, one-hour class on anything, what would it be?
If I think of this question in the context of my own field, which is the visual arts, and I had the capability to do it, I would teach a class on how to get rid of and quell the hindrances and shadows of the creative process.
3. What was the last book you read or film you saw that inspired you?
Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
4. What is your most played song in your music library?
Patti Smith Tarkovsky ( The Second Stop is Jupiter) or Land
5. How do you take your coffee?
Usually regular coffee with oat milk or I love iced coffee on summertime too!