Architerior had a fascinating talk with photography artist Alma Haser who uses photography as her art medium. An exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London gave her the start she needed to pursue an art career. Currently she is making “creepy” puzzles out of twins. In this interview you’ll learn more about this cool project and about Anna!
Where are you from?
I was born in Haslach, in the Black Forest in Germany, but then moved to England when I was 6 years old with my mother and brother. I am now based in the South East Coast of England.
How did your art career start?
I went to university to study photography, but came from a very fine art background. I used to paint and make sculptures at college, but then decided my real passion was in photography. Both my parents are artists, so that probably influenced me quite a bit. My mum was the one who got me into photography actually. She used to do pin-hole photography, and would often take pictures of me and my brother. We’d have to lie still for 10 minutes to get the exposure and then we got to witness the picture being processed. It was like magic!
Wow, that’s amazing! How did your own art techniques come about?
I would say a lot of my techniques come from failed attempts, I will have an idea, but it turns out to be way too elaborate, and I’ll give up. Then a few days later I’ll return, and see the parts in a fresh light and realize it’s actually something amazing, something completely different to what I was trying to create. You have to have a very open mind, and not be set on one outcome.
Can you describe your art style: materials, forms, colours. Do you have preferences?
I use photography, because is the medium that holds all my work together. I paint, and draw… as well as fold, rip, crumple, weave. But it always starts and finishes with a camera. I don’t want to limit myself to just photography, as I love making things and using my hands. I’m not a huge fan of Photoshop, so wherever I can, I will try and use other techniques.
What’s the hardest part of being an artist?
Chasing “commercial” jobs so you have enough money to make your own work.
And also advertising yourself all the time, so you don’t become the forgotten artist. It’s such a competitive world out there, with so many creative minds. You have to constantly come up with new ideas and new work to stay on top of it all.
What’s the best thing about being an artist?
Freedom to express, to be yourself and to do what you love.
Also meeting people, I will often go up to people in the streets and ask if I can photograph them. So that’s also quite interesting and fun.
From the series Eureka Effect
Can you mention a few exhibitions or moments in your art career that have been extra important to you?
The first show I was part of was at the National Portrait Gallery in London, for the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, which I amazingly won 4th prize in. I was 23 at the time and had always dreamed of showing in the NPG since going there on visits with family and my University.
There was a bit of a space between then and last year I guess. But then when The Photographers Gallery took me on and gave me my first solo show, that was the moment I thought, ‘maybe I could really make it as an artist…’
What are you working on right now?
I have always been strangely fascinated by identical twins forever really, and the closest I had come to making a series on twins is two girls with an Afro, but not even related. So I started to find twins and catalogue them for this project. Another love of mine is puzzles. I can spend hours putting together a puzzle and be so content while doing it. I found out you could get the same die-cut on different puzzles, so I thought it could be really interesting to combine the portraits of identical twins and identically cut puzzles. And being me, I had to add an element of surrealism and confusion, by swapping some of the face pieces with each portrait. I didn’t realize how well it would work! So that was the first in the series, and I have quite a few more twins to photograph and turn into creepy puzzles now.
If you could exhibit your art anywhere/with anyone, where/who would it be?
Well the obvious ones would be the Tate Modern, and the Venice Biennale. But I guess for me, I would really love the opportunity to exhibit in an unusual historical space with good light and create an installation to go with my work.
I hope that can be arranged! But at home then, do you have your own or others art on your walls?
Haha, I only have one of my own pieces on the wall, the rest are from friends or other artists I really admire.
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