” This artist presents images that are mysterious, haunting, dreamlike. There are interesting juxtapositions between what we conventionally define as animate and inanimate things, raising questions about what is living and what is not and how various aspects of existence are connected.” Barbara Bullock-Wilson
Today we share the work and words of Nicola Hackle-Haslinger. Her portfolio was one of the selections in the 2017 Call for Entry.
Would you please tell us a little bit about yourself ?
I’m an Austrian artist, born in Linz in 1974. My family and I and our four chickens and a male cat live in a little house near Linz. Here I can almost always find the rest and recreation I need. At the same time it is also here where I put my photographic ideas into practice.
How did you get started in photography?
My passion for photography started at quite an early age. I was about five years, when I was given my first Agfamatic camera by my father and occasionally I would also get a flash cube. At this stage I already captured moments in photographs (group shots in the kindergarten, family photographs in my grandparents’ garden). Moreover I loved sticking the photographs into albums and decorating them! When I leaf through the albums today I find the perspectives and the choice of motifs quite interesting! It was during my school days at the HBLA für Künstlerische Gestaltung (a vocational school with a strong focus on art-related subjects) when I started taking photos with a reflex camera and developing them in the darkroom.
After my high school diploma I received training as a designer of jewelry, and in 1999 I was awarded the Künstlerpunze (artist`s hallmark). Alongside my work as a self-employed designer I started further training at the Prager Fotoschule Österreich in 2008. In 2011, I graduated with honors and worked there as a lecturer from 2012 – 2016 in the field of portrait photography.
Would you share with us one image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time?
Yes, I`d love to! A photo that has been with me since my childhood is the photographic portrait of my great-grandmother in a hand-carved, gilded frame. It dates back to the year 1925 and as long as I can remember it hung in my grand-parents’ living room and has always fascinated me. Now, after my grandmother’s death it is mine and hangs in our living room and I enjoy looking at it every day.
Which photographers and other artists’ work do you admire?
There are so many of them! One of my favourite artists is the Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli, another one Caravaggio from the Early Baroque. It is especially his use of light that I find exciting and inspiring. But of course this list could be continued unendingly.
As for the photographers, I find the pictorialists fascinating, especially Edward Steichen`s wonderful works, be it photographs of the moonlight, nude studies or artists` portraits. Apart from Sarah Moon, Josephine Sacabo is one of my top favourites. It was her, respectively her works, that nudged me into discovering the technique of photogravure for myself. I would be ever so happy if I could meet her in person one day!
What has been your most memorable experience as far as your photographic work is concerned?
The most memorable experience in my photographic work was the moment when after a period that was marked by experiments, innumerable setbacks and misprints and which lasted more than two years – I succeeded in printing the first perfect photogravures on gold! At last I was able to combine both my passions-photography and gold smithery! Furthermore, I like to remember the moment when in March 2017, I for the first time, I held the latest LP of the pianist and composer Hauschka in my hands.
Before it was published I had the chance to listen to his compositions and thereafter create a photographic series. He and his label decided to choose my photographs which can now be found on the cover of his LP “What if“ ! An incredibly pleasurable feeling!
Please tell us about the portfolio of works you submitted to our call.
These are works form the series “Silentium“. I am trying to get to the bottom of things, not only technically, but also in a psychological and symbolic sense. I take an observer’s position and I try to document latent moods and secret moments in low-key colours and formal exactness. Moreover, I am striving to create an atmosphere of vagueness, somehow linking what is inside with the exterior, a process of unveiling and bringing something to light! A recurring motif is the presentation of innermost states, both with regard to the intellect but also to emotions.
In addition to that, it is especially with this series that I want to invite the beholder to stand still and linger over what he sees and maybe, apart from the space that is provided for individual interpretation, also find a moment of peace and harmony in this fast-paced time!
The photographs challenge the beholder to look closer and ,work out the different layers, each one telling their own stories.
Which image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?
The work “Nexus“ taught me an important lesson: Less is more.
What makes a good day for you,in terms of creative work?
When, after numerous experiments and also failures, there is the moment of breakthrough: this feeling of satisfaction and happiness is beyond description! Also the feeling of flow is fantastic, but unfortunately it cannot be produced at the touch of a button!
Do you have any favorite pieces of equipment that you find essential in the making of your work?
Yes, this favorite piece of equipment is my wonderful copper printing press dating from 1900!
What is on the horizon?
A lot of work! I am ever so grateful and happy to live my professional life in accordance with my vocation as an artist! This gives a boost to my ideas and projects and enables me to put them into practice. In terms of form: Also in the future one of my main topics will be printing on gold! I make a point of refining this technique. The idea, the awareness of having created something new, fills me with utmost happiness any time I hold such a piece of work against the sunlight. Another matter close to my heart for the near future is the photographic realization of my grandmother’s letters from the 1920s to be collected in a picture book. And of course exhibitions, exhibitions, exhibitions.
To learn more about the work of Nicola Hackl-Haslinger please visit her site at Nicola Hackl – Haslinger