Bärbel Praun




Tell us about your process. What reference or influence (if any) do you take from other mediums? I can’t name one specific medium - influence for me is everyday life for sure, going out there and open my eyes for many things. Some recent impressions: paintings of Pieter Brueghel the Elder in the painting gallery of the Kunsthistorische Museum, Vienna. My mother’s house, which is decorated with tiny objects, collected in nature, like stones, shells and leaves. This incredible light in the evenings in my hometown. The movie Gerry by Gus Van Sant.

My working process is more about following my intuition and curiosity than a specific structure. Carrying all these experiences around, and in order to not be immersed in chaos, I kind of sort it all out through taking pictures. (That might be the reason my photographs are so ‘tidied up’.) The biggest impact on my work and me though, is nature. 

Are these pictures concerned with exploring formal and aesthetic interests – studies of form, colour, movement, how things work together, or are they representational, metaphorical?  What is the weight that holds these pictures together? Sure, one reason that makes you decide to hold on and take a picture often is a response to aesthetic matters, too. The series This Must Be The Place is about my personal exploration, perception and interpretation of landscape and natural spaces. Since I’ve never lived and worked in one place for more than several months in a row over the past years, I have been asking myself questions about everybody’s need for a home, belonging somewhere, and the state of being unsettled in a conventional way, all at the same time. Concerning this research of mine you could consider the work as metaphorical as well. For me it’s the atmosphere, a specific mood, that holds it together.

Are you a photographer or an artist using photography? I am not a big fan of entitling everything, so I’d say: I tell stories within the medium of photography.

Does your work reflect on the medium of photography or the photographic image? If so, is that intentional? It’s a bit of both, sometimes it’s intentional, sometimes coincidental.

Typically, are your works more about construction or deconstruction? Most of the times I work with found situations, but sometimes I choose objects to play a main role in form of a ‘newly’ created image. For example in my series Solo For Plastic I am combining natural landscapes or environments with installations; you might have to take a second look to find out what’s real and what is artificial, what is found or created and I love to mix these.

Are you interested in the notion of your pictures as objects? Do you think about how their physicality may endure as you are photographing them or is that an afterthought? In general I consider it as very important to give my images a physical form for presentation in the end. Having a print framed on a wall is like an evidence for your thoughts and quite a satisfying experience.

Often sculptural photographic works are concerned with elevating banal objects, situations or events to a status of ‘art’ – when does something become art for you? Banal objects can be beautiful. Various kinds of materials and substances and their surfaces, haptic and shapes always fascinates me, whether they are natural ones, like ice, stone or water, or artificial ones like plastic foil or Styrofoam. A friend of mine recently mentioned when looking at my pictures she actually wants to touch them. At the same time they gave her goose bumps. I do like that idea. Whether this is art, I honestly don’t care that much (see answer 3).


Titles from top:

Work 1-7 from the series This Must Be The Place