Thursday, 5 February 2015

Hanna Ukura

Stockholm, Sweden

How do most people react when you tell them that you’re a photographer? How do you feel?

I think it depends on in which city/part of the country/ or what country you’re in. But often people are more excited than I had anticipated they would be. This most of the times makes me wish that I had never said anything, because the follow up question always is: “So, what do you photograph?”. And that is a tough question to answer!

Are you ever surprised when you look through the developed pictures for the first time? 

I’m always surprised, and often in a positive way. That’s one of the reasons why I keep shooting analogue. I like the blindness and surprise of it. 

How do you interpret the term 'sensorium' for yourself? And what was the initial impulse that made you start this project?

To me, ‘Sensorium’ is the all-seeing eye, despite how cheesy this may sound. It’s about looking at all things all the time. It's about keeping your eyes and your mind open and about being curious. It’s the opposite of narrow-mindedness, which, I believe, is becoming more and more important in today's world since it’s tending to lean too much towards the “every man for himself” attitude. The project is something that has been growing on me over the years, but I first realised what it really was about one and a half year ago, while travelling by myself for a longer period of time. I was doing that for the first time and had time to really think everything through.

To you, is shooting a portrait always about showing what is unique about the person portrayed?

Hopefully. I like to get to know someone through taking photos of him or her. Usually, when I hang out with people longer, I start to take portraits of them. And that’s when I start to really observe that person. I find it interesting, almost stimulating, to find and see the uniqueness and beauty in each person. And why shouldn't I? Every person deserves to be seen.

What did you enjoy most about your collaboration with “Morningwood"?

It was a really good collaboration, because I was free to do whatever I wanted, and what I wanted turned out to perfectly align with the designer's taste and vision. It was interesting to work in a studio with models from an agency and with lightning and styling. And having the authorization to do exactly what you want with all of it was an uplifting feeling. For the first time I realized that the number of possibilities - when imagining all the things one could do in a studio - were never-ending!

If you could be based in more than one city/country, which would you choose? Why?

That’s my dream. I’ve never really acknowledged Stockholm as my city, the city where I like to live and develop myself. My secret dream is to have an Orozco way of living, which is about spending time at and in-between three or four different places: A huge studio/warehouse space in East London where I can spread out my stuff, put up some studio lightning, just go nuts over all the space and throw openings and parties; a small apartment in Stockholm just to sleep in, and maybe have small dinners; a hand built hippie cabin up on a mountain somewhere warm, preferably Spain or South America, to where I can retreat to, read, think about life, scribble down some thoughts and just breathe in. The fourth place I still have to decide on.

You wrote me that you intend to take your work into a new direction. What do you have in mind?

I want it to go further away from portraying romantic melancholy and more into displaying a more awake state of seeing. I’ve started to examine plain abstract photography, where you look more at compositions and colour fields rather than the actual object(s). But of course I’ll never stop taking photos of people and travelling. Instead I want to clarify why I take the pictures that I take. It’s all about why shooting at a certain moment, about what I am capturing and how I am doing it. I see it as a way of examining and developing my thought process(es).

How was the photo trip you took with a friend to Portugal and Spain last summer? Do you have any such plans for 2015?

It was a much needed trip to get away from the dullness and depression of the never-ending Swedish winter and to kickstart some new photo-thoughts and -projects. I’ll always, always keep the memories of the trip and of my friend very close to my heart after that trip. I wouldn’t want to replace them with anything in the world. And I’d love to do more trips like that, to just go without having any plans. I think everyone needs to sometime. I think it enriches you in an indescribable way. At the same time I think that I will go on my next all by myself. I can feel the itch of needing to just flee again.

What are you working on currently

There’s the ‘Sensorium’ project that will stay with me for the rest of my life. And there are a couple of so far secret projects with a friend who works with experimental video. I’ve started an modest side-project about the psy-trance scene that will turn into a book in a few years. No stress. There are a couple of small thoughts, try-outs, and discussions about collaborations that will hopefully turn out into amazing things. But mostly I’m working on focusing down my entire photography into something clearer: It's about formulating my projects, thinking hard about what direction I want to take, about writing statements etc... Along with keeping a steady flow of scanning and “everyday” photographing. 

Is there an artist - living or dead - you would (have) love(d) to work with?

Plenty. Collaborations are almost always interesting and they most of the times develop in different ways. There are a lot of artistic people in my close surroundings whom I have worked with, whom I am working with or whom I would love to work with. But in terms of well-known persons or artists: Gabriel Orozco is my god at the moment and doing a photo project with him, or under his guidance would be an absolute dream.

What are you listening to these days?

After listening to a lot of folk and blues for a lot of years I gradually switched and now almost exclusively am listening to electronic music in different forms: everything from techno, IDM, house or trance to more experimental stuff. I found that I work extremely well and stay focused while listening to interesting askew sounds without lyrics.

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