KT: How did you get into photography? When/what was your first encounter with photography?

AH: Over the years, i use to be an image collector. I used pictures or even details of pictures as templates for drawings. The stuff came first from magazines, newspapers, books etc. Later when I started to use an iPhone, i suddenly began taking pictures. It became so easy to collect moments and objects from daily life that i started using the camera to explore a certain topic as well.

KT: You have published/edited many books in your 35 year long photographic journey including recently published in 2018 – “TRAPPED”. What do you like about photography in a book format? What is the collaborative process between you and your publisher considering you have worked with a very wide range of publishers?

AH: When I published my first book, i had no experience about graphic design or publishing. It was in the early 90’s, an artist friend started an ‘Artist book Edition’. He invited me to create art work especially in the form of a book. This along with other artistic projects became the initial projects of my publishing career. Further projects were a mix between documentation and an artist book.

The collaboration between the editor, the graphic designer and the artist is a delicate process. On one hand you have to know what you really want, what you’d like to achieve and on the other hand you should be open for any kind of feedback, ideas and suggestions coming from the people around you. I’m so happy that I mostly had the chance to work with passionate publishers. Artistic and formal aesthetic have always been more important than economic issues.

KT: Your work comprises of breath taking observation on multiple subjects which includes various mediums such as drawing, installation, sculpture and painting. How do you select your subjects? How do you manage to get so intimate with your subjects?

AH: As long as I can remember, i was interested in all kind of things: nature animal, plants, landscape, objects. I had a special personal relationship with animals around me. Growing up on a farm, animals were an important part of my life. Particularly, horses played a important role in my childhood. The fascination of their impressive appearance, intelligence and beauty, their status in history and culture had a deeper impact on my life and my emotions. Not only did animals captured my interest but i also got inspired from a high school teacher, and I began to examine and analyse human behaviour around me.

By means of drawings, I began to focus on the question: Which kind of prototype and stereotype figures are central in my life? Later, I started to think about all these topics with the help of the language. First used as an instrument of thinking, language became an important tool for an artistic expression. I discovered its aesthetic potential. Every single letter became the status of a drawing. The interplay between language and image is thematic in nature which still interests me.

The discussion in the nineties about the so called ‘Iconic Turn’ had a crucial impact on my work. Pictures were everywhere, omnipresent in our daily lives. I was surrounded with multiple kind of images. My ambitious goal was to understand the world through its pictures. Spontaneous and very intuitively, I began to copy images or single elements of images. The process of drawing became the leading role during that period. Later I began using hundreds of drawings as a base for other technics such as painting, installation, sculpture. During that process i realised that in every topic is a certain potential for a certain kind of implementation. Most of the implemented ideas, elements, figures as paintings, installations, sculptures are based on drawings I made in the period of twenty years.

KT: Your recent book ‘Trapped‘ is about photographing wild animals in their natural habitat which was originally meant for a small circle of zoologists for scientific purposes. What was your fascination with photo-trap shots of exotic-wild-animals? In 21st century where surveillance has raised many severe questions, what are your views on the authorship and misuse of surveillance photography?

AH: I’m interested in these pictures because they are unique, different to «normal» pictures. They offer a special kind of view on the animals. They became strange creatures which live in their own world. Unique aspect about these images is, that the faces are captured in a moment of surprise, because the animals are gazing without being noticed, because there is no subject, no human. They glance on us without knowing where we are.

The topic of monitoring, surveillance, control is only a secondary theme. I’m not interested in that. Therefore I decided to remove all the information which indicates about location and time of the photo. The focus should be on the animal, their staging, on the representation of time, the depiction of an individual and not on the circumstances around them. Through this kind of photography i have tried to focus more on the psychological and philosophical moments than the political aspect.

KT: With your multi-layered artistic approach, what do you do you want to achieve with your photography in the end?

AH: The photography helps me to understand the world and its diverse phenomena and it’s appearances. With a collection of inconspicuous and extraordinary moments I can think about mechanisms and operating modes about how pictures work. This research which explores the world around me is visualised with my photography.

Images©Alex Hanimann