Lines Fiction: The indoor spaces that we enter in your animations are anonymous, yet strangely familiar: in Interieur 39/56 it is the danish modern style of the furniture, in Interieur 0303 it is the typical mixture of living and working in a tenement house, defining today’s city life, and therefore easily recognizable. Is it your own environment that you depict here?
Tina Haber: Yes, these are the two Berlin apartments where I was living for the longest period. Even though being animations, I regard these moving pictures as images in the tradition of domestic interiors in painting. By showing a certain perspective, and by presenting basic commodities, an idea of every day life becomes visible, although the space is deserted. Therefore a remarkable interplay starts between intimacy and anonymity that I find is a peculiarity in the genre of painting domestic interieur.
The so called “Zimmerbilder” (Interior portraits) of the Biedermeier period i.e. by Adolph Menzel exude calm and nobility. That changes in the following decades, according to the social turnovers, and the middle class changing attitude towards life. The interiors in paintings of the 20th century show an increasing ambivalence that comes to the fore. Home as a safe spot has become a rare commodity.
Hidden in these everyday scenes lies the fundamental aesthetic paradox of domestic interieur painting in general by exposing a supposed privacy.
Meanwhile the so called “Room Tours” on YouTube undertake the task of suggesting an authentic life style in presenting walks through individual living environments.
I see the my work, the painterly and filmic transformation of this genre as a sort of hybrid in dealing with different forms of portraying private spaces.
Lines Fiction: The impression of ambivalence that appears in painted interiors of the 20th century is also intensified by the filmic narrative: in both animations we could be witnesses at a crime scene, following a thief through the apartment, searching the rooms and the cabinets, before, like in Interieur 0303 climbing downstairs in the staircase to the next surreal identical apartment.
Do you understand your animations as a sign of the times that a certain concept of privacy is retreating?
Tina Haber: In my opinion, privacy describes moments when we enter a deeper personal dialogue with people and things in our immediate vicinity or with ourselves, without taking an audience into consideration. Even if we surf through people’s kitchens and living rooms online, I don’t believe that privacy as quality gets lost, when it comes to intimacy and belonging. But privacy retreats into areas that we share with fewer people, making more room for public life.
My animations show a sequence of nervous and fragmentary snapshots of the two apartments. As soon as the viewer perceives the form of the furniture or the scene, it changes, and some areas are hidden again outside of the viewer’s field of vision. Private life obviously takes place somewhere else. From movies we know this perspective – the eye wandering in a deserted room in search of something, as to increase the moment of suspense.
The reference to collective viewing habits, by means of painting, appears in many of my pieces. To start working, I begin with photography and film, followed by a long, contemplative and repetitive painting proces until the images detach themselves from the original motive.
Lines Fiction: you make sketches and form your final tableaux by assembling the gouaches. Do you exhibit your paintings together with the animations?
Christine Haber: Yes, that makes it possible to question the pictorial space even further. Similar to the animations, the mounted gouaches suggest such a pictorial space – consistent but incomplete. Cracks and kinks, the watery application forming washy stains bring the nature of the used material to the foreground. The painted space appears deformed and instable, as we know it from lingering memories, spaces that we remember or dreamed of.
Lines Fiction: Animations are traditionally based on drawings. In fact only very few painters deal with the moving image, probably because the attention span between these media – film and painting – differs even more than between film and drawing. Therefore the question is interesting if it works.
In your spaces I see the borderline case where watercolor and gouache combine drawing and painting. Is working with brushes, paint and film crucial for your work?
Tina Haber: Yes, because painting is the basis of my examinations, testing the effects of different media. Painting and drawing transform their subject quite differently from any other imaging technique. Watercolor on paper has got its own dynamic, with watery pools and stains appearing. When the numerous dried watercolors pile up warped heaps on my desk, they looks like withering leaves. Dropped moments, aging in colored papers. On the other side, digitalizing the gouaches, and implementing the animation online preserve the scene in a dematerialized state. Oddly enough, looking at the animation online multiplies the presence of the painted indoor spaces.