the plantation Collective 5

HANNAH FARRELL

Interview by Joanna Cresswell

sculptural body

 

Tell us about your process. What reference or influence (if any) do you take from other mediums - or even other types of photography?  What are the important elements of what you do? My process is a slow, intimate and investigative one where I take found images and objects and create sculptural formations for the lens. Collage influences my work a lot, particularly that involving the surreal and the uncanny. There is something intriguing about things that seem normal on the surface but carry a darker undertone. I’m drawn to minimalist sculpture and structures. I like space.

Images that have been used throughout printed media and popular culture during the past 50 years continue to fascinate me – the aesthetic, the way in which they have been consumed, as well as the words that accompany them. Those that are found in erotic magazines of the late 60s and early 70s are what feeds this body of work. I’m also obsessed with the performances of certain actresses; women like Jeanne Mauro and Catherine Deneuve – self-contained yet complex and alluring.

Are these pictures concerned with exploring formal and aesthetical interests – studies of form, colour, movement, how things work together, or are they representational, metaphorical?  What is the weight that holds these pictures together? They're concerned with all of the above. I use form, colour and movement to enhance the interaction between photographs, objects and the lens. I'm fascinated by the relationships between none living things and the performances that they create - the way they come alive, mimic and interact with each other. A lifetime of experiences have informed the work however, I thrive off the different ways in which others interpret it. I like that metaphors are created according to the individual and their own experiences. Essentially, all of these interpretations develop from feelings of unrest and dissatisfaction with current narratives of sexuality and the female body.

Are you a photographer or an artist using photography? I'm definitely more inspired by photography that is shown in contemporary art fields and I feel that’s where my work is understood. It’s very rare that I ever use my camera to take lots of pictures of my life anymore, I’d much rather live that moment and take it in to inspire me later on. Every photograph I make is made with the intent to rouse feelings and ask questions. 

Does your work reflect on the medium of photography or the photographic image?  If so, is that intentional?Definitely. The work came about through a fascination with the medium and how it can be tested. I became frustrated with simply taking photographs so the progression into making formations to be photographed was an organic one. It’s interesting to push the boundaries of photography at a time when the medium itself seems a bit lost and I’m currently experimenting with new ways to do so. In popular culture, the female body and body language has changed as photographic styles and aesthetic has. I love establishing the dates certain photographs were taken according to a combination of these visual elements! To take these images away from their original function and give them a new place to live and communicate is also exciting for me.

Typically, are your works more about construction or deconstruction? They are about constructing sculptural forms for the lens. A lot of my influence however, comes from the sculptural forms that are found. The way objects are unintentionally arranged, the performances in nature or the formation of certain landscapes. The connections between, people, objects and the universe continue to fascinate me – I see life, performance and synchronicity everywhere.

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? The most interesting reactions to my work have occurred when people have looked at the physical print. This is when the confusion starts and people question what they are looking at. I have been asked if they are watercolours and if they are collages. One woman put her hand to a print and tried to peel part of it away. These questions and reactions are inspiring the development of this body of work, where I’m experimenting with display and interactive elements for two forthcoming group exhibitions. The most exciting and motivating aspect of making photographs for me is seeing how people respond to their physical form and display. It may have been an afterthought at first but it’s now what drives my work.

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? When it connects to and remains with someone. When something confuses and seduces at the same time.

hannahfarrell.com 

All works from the series Close Your Eyes And Think Of England.