In this year’s summer exhibition fiedler contemporary presents for the first time the Finnish artist Nanna Hänninen. This is at the same time the first solo exhibition of the artist in Germany.
Nanna Hänninen’s minimalist photographs are dominated by the tension between the named and the unnamed, the visible and the invisible. Her works are aesthetically refined and delicate, cleared of noise and superfluous effects. White is the predominant colour. Her photographs set out from a material world with recognisable objects from everyday life: paper, tooth pickers, stickers. At first glance they are difficult to identify as what they are. Despite the vaguely defined shadows, the form seems to float in a weightless space, making it difficult to orientate oneself within the pictorial space. Thus her universe contains an element of fiction although the content is real and ordinary. The objects seem at once close by and far away. On the one hand the object insists on being visible, conquering the photographic space, but on the other hand it also threatens to disappear, to dissolve within its own materiality. The vague suggestions of emerging form are created by an almost monotonous, tedious slowness. The pictures are roaring with silence.
In the series “Spaces” the almost abstract pictures contain a strong association to nature. At a distance, one initially senses a horizon, seemingly consisting of a cloud or a mountain top. It takes a moment to discover the mountain top as crumpled white paper but after having detected the material it seems all the more tangibly present. This is however not to say that Hänninen’s starting point is figurative. But precisely the elusive pictorial space and the just barely visible horizons seem to confirm Hänninen’s fascination with the notion of the boundless, the sublime impenetrability.
As is often the case with with Hänninen’s photographs, there is a reference in the title of the work that points beyond the narrowly defined pictorial space, as in the case of „Airplane #1“ and „Airplane #2“.Through the titles, she points towards an associative visual reading, where the arbitrary space of the paper sheet creates reference to a familiar object, thus breaking off from total abstraction.
One is prone to view Hänninen’s work as a purely formalist based photography. In the series “Fear and Security” however the artist reveals her obligation towards the social reality and her understanding of the psychological and mental mechanisms of society. Here as well the titles of the works are carrying sense, they are not just descriptive, but contain references to the artistic intention. In this series Hänninen tries to catch the idea of society which is filing, sorting and systemizing things to be more secure and organized. This for the artists is a great paradox because only putting up security measures causes insecurity of something unknown. This series as well contain trivial elements that seem so fragile that the slightest movement would dissolve the form and make the space collapse. Hänninen speaks of the fear of losing control, and it is precisely this that the pictorial composition makes concrete. Her works are both a commentary on the rational, functional society and at the same time a visualisation of the fundamental fear of anarchy within the system.
Nanna Hänninen was born in 1973 in Finland and lives and works in Finland and Switzerland. She studied at the Lahti Institute of Design in Finland, the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Zurich and the University of Art and Design in Helsinki. Her works have been shown in several solo shows and numerous group exhibitions and are part of international institutional and private collections.
Press release, fiedler contemporary, Cologne © 2004