Hanna Maria Anttila intervewed by Gitte Broeng Kristensen
[ view Hanna Maria Anttila's billboard ]
MORE THAN ONE OPTION
Hanging right outside the Mall in Frederiksberg Hanna Maria Anttila's
billboard is bound to wake up sleepy shoppers. It pictures herself
hanging with her head down while apartment buildings are grounded
in the sky. At least this is what it looks like to the beholder.
Your picture is called 'Helsinki, Option 3'. Why is that?
The picture was taken in Helsinki, on the balcony of my apartment
building in Kallio (Berghäll). I made the image pair 'Helsinki,
Option 1' and 'Helsinki, Option2' about a year ago, they are
one meter wide digital printouts next to each other.
An individual's experience of his/her environment is always multifaceted.
'Helsinki, Option 1' and 'Helsinki, Option 2' reveals a tickling
uncertainty. These pictures give two options instead of straight
answers: Is the picture upside down or is she really hanging
Helsinki is my hometown; I have spent most of my adult years
there. It is a cosy place where things work well and coffee tastes
good. At the same time and in many ways Helsinki is a small place
- being there too long can be a bit suffocating. Many of my friends
(from all over the world) share the same experience: You love
your hometown and at the same time you can't wait to get out
Why did you choose this picture for the project in Copenhagen?
People pass billboards fast. I wanted to use something eye-catching.
I wanted to question an individual's relationship to the surrounding
cityscape, which I feel this picture does. The upside-down-factor
of 'Helsinki, Option 3' can appear as a mistake, as if the poster
has been glued incorrectly. This amuses me as a visual idea.
You depict yourself in many of your pictures, which can be said
to be a characteristic feature in female art. Do you see your
work as a part of a female tradition...?
Your question makes me think: what is the difference between
self-portraiture and using oneself as a prop? A traditional portrait
is an attempt to reveal a specific point of view (usually something
intimate) about the subject matter. My pictures do not reveal
much about my personality. I am not the subject matter of my
art. My work derives from a formal level of questioning the mediums
I utilize. Therefore I do not see my work as a part of a 'female
My experience is: both men and women have an equally narcissistic
desire to see their own image.
What kind of impact does your gender have on your work. If any?
I do not consciously work from a female point of view. My art
does not, for example, deal with gender expectations. I would
say that being female influences my work in similar ways as being
Finnish. Both factors affect the way I navigate in the world
and therefore have an influence on my work. However, I do not
consciously make art about being female.
How about turning the question around and asking my male artist
friends: Does being male influence your work? I think they would
be a bit confused.
You are currently living in New York. In the US public space
is even more 'polluted' than in Scandinavia with commercials
everywhere. Does the fact that public space is so commercialized, very often using stereotyped female models affect you in any way as an artist?
Visual clutter goes hand in hand with a hectic pace of life in
New York. This makes me numb - I need a lot of time to gather
my thoughts. I have lived only in New York in the United States
and therefore my view of the whole country is limited. I would
say that the commercial TV broadcasting makes me angry much more
often than advertising in New York's public city spaces.
Why is that?
TV programming (in the U.S.) is planned to sell as much advertising
time as possible. TV channels air sensationalist shows which
portray human relationships in weird ways. Luckily I get to choose:
I can turn the TV off or switch to BBC.