Weekly Conversations... with Verena Tscherner

© Verena Tscherner

This week we are pleased to introduce Verena Tscherner, who has just moved into one of our studios in Hegelgasse 14. On the occassion of the Open Studio Day on May 05, 2018 she will present current projects. We’ve talked to her beforehand, in order to give you an insight in her artistic practice.

Having graduated from the University of Music in Vienna with Honors, what made you turn to photography and conceptual art?
After a few years at the University of Music I realized that I’m neither born for the stage, nor good at teaching. And after some time I found out, that I have a very strong ability to visualize ideas and experiences rather than transforming them into music. Since my grandfather, my father and also my uncle loved to take photographs, merely for a documentary use, I started experimenting with the camera at the age of 15. Going to college in Nelson, New Zealand, for a period of time, I took the analog photography class, which increased my desire to know more about it. I frequently used my dad’s old camera, mostly to capture aesthetic landscapes from unusual perspectives. After I graduated in Music and Dance Education in 2014, I had found out, that I certainly don’t feel like pursuing a musical career. Therefore, I made a clean cut at first, and found my way back to painting, photography and art. And by the time I found myself focusing more and more on photography and conceptual art. I seek to widen my horizon by exploring other media, such as art objects and interactive video installations and so my profound musical experience intervenes more and more in my visual art day by day.

You find your motifs taking long walks through the city and your photographic works often depict urban spaces devoid of people. What is it about those environments that you want to capture and how do you find them?
Working on a project with a college recently made me realize how much the Neue Sachlichkeit and the New Topographic Movement influenced me. I wasn’t aware remnants of places, that used to be enlivened by people, catch my eye like that. When I’m walking through the streets on a regular day, I would never see it. But as soon as I have the camera with me, my way of looking and how I perceive things changes. I’m more observing and realize there are moments that I find gripping. Sometimes I have short series where I didn’t know at first what I wanted to do with the photos and later resulted in series like “Aus der Reihe tanzen”, “Grenzen erschaffen Abgründe” or “Hear My Song”. Of course that’s a subconscious process. Sometimes I see something that works together, sometimes it’s clear that it’s a single picture and sometimes it’s something to figure out during the editing process. And it’s difficult to photograph people on the street. That’s also a reason why I capture what they leave behind. The object becomes the subject. There is some aliveness to those environments because the remnants are still inspirited by the people who brought them to life. The situation’s soul is still there. And how do I find them? It finds me. I don’t go looking for it, it just happens like that. I greatly enjoy these photography-walks. On the one hand because it leaves me with a good feeling coming home and on the other hand because I appreciate the act of photographing. It centers me, I feel comfortable and not as drained as so often in life.

You work a lot with digital photography, have you also made use of the analog medium?
Analog photography still has an appeal for me, although I don’t work with it as much. But I think it’s a good counterpoint to digital photography. It’s a much more meditative, more withdrawn process. It’s often said that digital photography is too transitory, too quick or too easy. I don’t fully agree with that notion, because for me the analog process is just more haptic. It takes more time to develop and it’s a high art to convey an artwork the way you intended it. At the same time, I like that I can take a picture, see it immediately and already think about how to use it. Nevertheless, even the digital process needs a long time until the artwork is at a point where I can say it’s finished and want to present it. Both mediums have their assets and drawbacks and it’s a new decision to make every day.

Do you currently work with both mediums?
I have a project in the works that contrasts the processes of high-end digital with well-tried analog photography. I like the quick process of digital photography for deciding how to approach a project. But I wouldn’t say it’s fast moving. You have to figure out how to create something long-lasting from an ephemeral medium.

You just moved into one of our studios recently, how do you like having your own working space so far?
It’s wonderful. I really feel like my workload and the quality of my work has risen as a result because it’s easier to separate work from home. Everything that pertains to my artistic work and additional projects I do at the studio now and the infrastructure and location of studio das weisse haus is great. It seems to have a collaborative aspect as well with all the other artists here. It’s an enrichment for me, too as I like to exchange views about art and life in general with colleges.

Do you already have some new upcoming projects that you’re working on?
Yes, I’m currently working on a project that focuses on the large-scale exploitation of natural resources and the danger that it’ll soon be depleted. In this artwork I ascribe certain body parts to a natural resource. I’m creating maps of where those resources are primarily being mined and associate it with surgical situations where the human body is being deprived of those natural resources. However, it raises the question of how to display the project in an exhibition because many people will find it deterring. But as a personal matter it’s important to me to address how we think we’re making our lives easier but we’re actually exploiting nature and its resources without thinking about the future. I already did some shootings for this project and I’m currently working on it in Photoshop but I’d really like to stage it with a make-up artist and surgical instruments. But that’s a question of cost and it’s still in the works.

Interviewer for studio das weisse haus: Judith Herunter