Woman Crush Wednesday: Hana Knizova
Czech born photographer, Hana Knizova’s photographs are meant to challenge the expectations put upon youth by society. Her photo series Hamr Na Jezere and Family Matters force the viewer to look beyond face value of the subjects. Hana has been featured in magazines like, The Fader, Pylot, Vice, and Sleek. Her work has been exhibited internationally as well as at The National Portrait Gallery, The Red Gallery, and Arcane Gallery in London. See more of her work here.
Interview by Sophie Hur
The portraits that you have photographed, all convey a very genuine and intimate representation of the individual. Are most of your subjects’ friends of yours or do you like to reach out to strangers with fascinating stories to capture?
Both, a few projects started with photographing friends and expanded. It's a completely different approach, I appreciate the ease of familiarity when working with people you know but I also like working with strangers as you don't know what to expect, it's more exciting.
What is the most important thing you wish to demonstrate in your work to the viewer?
I want to challenge how the depicted are expected to be seen, undermine the stereotype. Slight hyperbole plays important role in most of my images. What the viewer should be looking for in my images is very subtle, yet multilayered. Looking at the photographs might take you somewhere where you want to be; or where you dread to be. You want to learn about the characters. You might experience a desire; slight discomfort; but you should be intrigued to look anyways.
You’ve been curious about Hamr na Jezere since you were young. Now that you have been inside and have had the lives of the youth touch you, have you found what you were searching for, or does your curiosity only continue to propagate?
Definitely continues. Sadly some of the kids reached the age of 15 or 16 so they left, and it is very difficult to trace them afterwards.
I really love your project, Family Matters. You’ve really captured a seamless harmony between parallels in family relationships and individualism. Having spent some time with these siblings with close connections, how does this compare with your experience with the youth of Hamr na Jezere, who mostly come from broken homes?
All the siblings I've photographed come from (comparatively) privileged and loving backgrounds, they don't need to fight for attentions, and their relationships are steady and safe. With the kids in Hamr it's the opposite - they form mostly short relationships based on (temporary) presence of other kids in the institution and often have very unstable family bonds (some parents are on/off jail or unavailable).
How would you describe yourself in one world prior to walking through the doors of Hamr na Jezere? How would you describe yourself when you walked out?
Curious, but funnily enough I walked out even more curious.
Describe your creative process in one word.
If you could teach a one, one-hour class on anything, what would it be?
I am really good at making smoothies, happy to share the skills.
What is the last book you read or film you saw that inspired you?
James Frey - Bright shinny morning - excellent, totally loved it. And a documentary about ballet dancer Sergei Polunin, who has incredible talent and devoted passion.
What is the most played song in your music library?
I get obsessed by songs on a monthly basis, right now it is Atomic Bomb by William Onyeabor. Actually I am gonna listen to it again now!
How do you take your coffee?
I love coffee with a shot of brandy. Its not an everyday treat, but it gives you a double kick.