Nanna Hänninen´s work is situated within a period when the experience of the divine was replaced by the private and the intimate. Since the 1990s, a substantial part of contemporary art has been characterised by a definite focus on the intimate and familiar. To a large number of young artists today, personal experience seems to be the only honest starting point for art. They convert their own experiences into valid visual insights regarding reality. Thus also for Hänninen who with her accounts of everyday trivialities creates new and surprising angles with respect to the intimate universe.
In Hänninen´s case, it is obviously not an instance of some kind of confessional art, where the artist divulges corporeal and emotional experiences onto the surface of the picture. Nor is it the private home of the artist that constitutes the pivotal point of her accounts of the trivial space of everyday living. Yet it seems natural to place her in this context, because her pictorial universe is very intimate and possesses an element of personal presence. The aesthetics of everyday living characterises Hänninen´s starting point, but she primarily uses it as a springboard for more formal investigations of the pictorial genesis itself.
Conceptual photography, as it was established by artists around the Düsseldorf School, remains to Hänninen the most significant point of reference. The idea of the pictorial space and about the potential of form is the driving force within her work. Structure, order, and systems characterise all of her photographs, but there is nothing cool and distanced about her poetic pictorial spaces. She takes reality at face value, but she adds to it an intimate nerve, which situates her artistic expression at the interface between cool minimalism and the private sphere.
The divisions between objectivity and subjectivity, rationality and irrationality, are tensions within Hänninen´s work that are hard to define unequivocally. Her pictures all contain an element of paradoxical contradictions, but the boundaries are blurred and one is left with an open visual field that creates space for aesthetic experiences and considerations regarding the artistic expressive potential of form and reality.
By Anna Krogh © 2003
Curator at the Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, Denmark
The quotes are from conversations with the artist and from her personal statements.
Translated by Michael Münchow
Excerpt from the article Potentiality of Form- An Introduction to the work of Nanna Hänninen.
Photographic artist, Art based business professional, CEO at Neemo™ Method. www.neemomethod.com