We met Stefanie Moshammer, the talented young photographer, who won the C/O Berlin Talent Award 2017, to talk with her about her upcoming solo exhibition at the C/O Berlin and why the Wabi-Sabi of pure observation and her poetry of personal impression is essential for her visual storytelling. Stefanie's photographic style is placed between documentary and conceptual photography.
Stefanie was born in Vienna in 1988. She graduated from Fashion School Vienna and received a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design & Photography. Afterwards she attended the BA in Advanced Visual Storytelling at the Danish School of Media and Journalism. In 2015 her first photo-book “Vegas and She” got published by Fotohof edition, followed by “Land of Black Milk” published by Skinnerboox in 2017.
What’s your current state of mind?
I’m sitting in the airplane from Amsterdam to Athens. I feel a bit exhausted, but still happy. And I’m excited to land in Athens in a few minutes.
Your photographs are realistic fictional. Are you a realist or dreamer?
A realistic dreamer. Or a dreamy realist? You choose.
Your work blurs the lines between documentary and conceptual photography. What kind of photography inspires you more?
Perhaps it’s a mix, although I find these categorisations quite incidental. I would say my work contains a documentary core – thereby, the attachment to reality seems clear to me and involves an idea of truth. If it’s completely out of this context and it doesn’t spring from a “real setting”, the conceptual part doesn’t work for me. The suggestive and visionary approach allows me to tell a story in a complete freedom. Though, I find it important for the reader to have question and doubts in terms of the picture’s authenticity.
You can try to identify beauty and cruelty, truth and lie, good and bad.
Yet there is no universal instruction for it. If we have no guarantee that we all see the same, the only point we will meet is the stillness of an idea.
Who can tell if the world is happy or sad, black or grey?
- Excerpt from Land of Black Milk, 2016
Some of your works are accompanied by your self-written poems. Do you feel like you can express yourself differently through words?
Besides of images, words help to extend the viewers experience while seeing visuals. Sometimes it seems, that what was lost in images, I try to catch in words. And sometimes it’s the opposite – what was lost in words, I’m trying to catch in images. Two different languages which are able to tell a story and go very well together. Also, it involves my approach to accomplish a work through words, trying to rule it off. A constant Wabi-Sabi though, as the Japanese would say.
Your choices of subject always evoke emotions and transmit a message. Is your choice of subject intrinsic, that you feel drawn to it for some unconscious reason, or would you say it’s rather the other way around, that you want to tell a certain story and then you look out for your subjects? How do you decide on your subjects?
Mostly there is somethings specific that draws me about a certain place and certain people and this is the main reason why I start a series. This specification gets more loose later on and I try to be as open and flexible as possible. While being present at a certain place, things arise and work shapes itself as it proceeds. This process has also a lot to do with coincidences. Somtimes it happens that the outcome becomes completely different to the first intentions. While being present at a place, I don’t try to conceptualize things too much. Only later on, when editing, curating, finalizing, work gets a form.
You won the C/O Talent Award in 2017. Now you’re going to have a solo exhibition at C/O foundation in 2018. How do you feel about showing your work in one of the best renown venues for photography?
This is such an appreciation to my work. I’m very excited about this and the upcoming exhibition. Also, I like it that my work is going to be visible to a very diverse audience since C/O Berlin addresses a wide and varying target group I believe.
What is your latest obsession professional-wise?
Moving images / Film.
Interview & Words Caro Gettler
Photography Stefanie Moshammer