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Anne Hardy's first solo show in Austria opens at the Secession
Anne Hardy, Suite, 2012. Photo: Angus Mill.

VIENNA.- British artist Anne Hardy constructs life-size sets that are rich in detail using a variety of materials often found in the street or in second-hand shops that hold precise position in her work. In each case, the result of this process is a single photograph, as the installations are then dismantled again. At the Secession, in her first solo show in Austria, Anne Hardy is showing twelve photographs from the past five years, including six new works.

The photographic images address issues of illusion and the spectator’s imagination as a means of relating to the world. While in older works, like Cipher (2007), the illusion of space is often represented by theatrical, self-contained spaces, spatial order is generated in a more complex manner in works such as Rift (2011) or Rehearsal (2010) by the use of mirrors. These underline a straight-on, frontal view whilst showing what is going on in parts of the set otherwise hidden to the camera lens. Drawings and painted images add a further illusion-ary layer to these images. In Script (2012) and The Method / THE DETAILS (2012), Anne Hardy takes the issue of creating an illusionary space a step further. These images show surfaces defined by their flatness but multi-layered with words, hand-written notes, which create a ‘world’ of meaning to be read and interpreted by the viewer.

The works are filled with evidence of human presence and activity, these traces are diverse: scraps of words from newspaper clippings on walls as in The Method/THE DETAILS (2012), feathers and weights in Cipher (2007), and video tapes and writing in Playback (2012). Hardy describes her working method as follows: “The process is very sculptural, and material. Each place comes into being through a kind of tussle with the materials, and the camera creates an arena for this to happen in. I bring a place into being, imaginatively and physically by using the suggestive qualities of the various materials and objects that I work with.”

The convoluted exhibition spaces in the basement of the Secession are perfect for the presentation of Hardy’s works: with no view opening onto the outside world, the real spatial situation amplifies the hermetic closure of the fictional spaces; thanks to the display layout and small interventions, lines of sight are controlled and works can be viewed individually.

Hardy refers to classification and ordering systems in her work, and the structures she builds reference informal forms of architecture, in particular the accumulative and adaptive architecture found in a densely built city. Literature is also an important reference for her, and the artist book accompanying the exhibition contains excerpts from novels by Haruki Murakami, Stanisław Lem, Raymond Carver, Bret Easton Ellis, and Tom McCarthy. The first passage quoted by Hardy in the book is from J. G. Ballard’s novel Concrete Island.

Her particular fascination with this text is symptomatic for her interest in literature and her own work as an artist: “It describes the moment when the protagonist leaves his normal world and enters a parallel one, he becomes invisible. This is the kind of space I am fascinated with in my work, it is just there, next to you, and you don’t see it. It is, perhaps, the kind of space you might imagine exists.”

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