Andrea Grützner is an award-winning photographer and artist based in Berlin. A keen traveler since childhood, in her work Andrea explores perception of space, history and heritage, along with the familiar and unfamiliar in everyday objects by blending together traditions of different media. Andrea told us about her creative influences, future plans and most challenging project yet.
1. How did you get to where you are right now?
I was born in Eastern Germany in 1984, after the Berlin wall came down we moved to the city of Kaiserslautern in the west of Germany. Since then I am used to constantly travelling back and forth across the country, calling many places my home. I studied communication design in Konstanz, close to the Swiss border, and photography in Bielefeld and currently I am based in Berlin. Since last year I've also been living part-time in Koblenz, where the Mosel and Rhine rivers are merging, I was invited here to do a photography project about the town. Maybe that's why my artistic work has this sense of longing for Heimat – a never-ending search for origin and ancestry.
2. Have you ever taken risks to move forward?
While working on my long term project Erbgericht, about a fascinating traditional guesthouse, built in 1898 in a village called Polenz, I kind of got stuck, which almost got me thinking of quitting the project and photography altogether. It took me a while to realize, that this particular guest house, located in my grandparents' village in rural Saxony, is very significant. Having survived 5 different political and social systems, it's been owned by one family for generations and has an amazing historical collage of materials and rooms. You could really feel how important it was for so many villagers as they’d built a strong emotional bond with that house, and that really changed my perspective. My professor Katharina Bosse, who was really supportive during these tough times, told me, that she'd never met such a radical person who'd start the project all over again, after balking all the pictures I'd been working on for two years. So, choosing to finish this project was definitely a creative risk.
3. Are your family and friends supportive of what you do?
Friends and family are the ones who keep me going in my work, help me relax during whatever short repose I have and lift me up when things get tough. Being a photographer often means being a lonely rider, so having friends in this business with whom you can share your knowledge and discuss everything is very precious. Also finding out about the life of my family during the times of the East German Democratic Republic was an important driver in my creative search.
4. Do you have a routine?
For the last 3 years, I have been lucky to have a lot of shows, at least every two or three months – that‘s kind of a long-term routine which ivolves printing and a lot of coordination between my travels. But I always try to keep my weekends free. Normally I work on my e-mails in the morning, if I don‘t have printing or other appointments planned for that day. Sadly with workshop preparations, teaching and production of sold work, I have almost no time left to actually take new pictures here in Berlin. In that sense, photography grants are a great way to get out of town and not to lose yourself in the shuffle.
5. How would you describe your style?
I love simple but complex pictures and work a lot with color. All my recent works are dealing with abstract ideas of some sort, but I always try to link my photograph to something real.
6. What gives you ideas, inspires and influences you?
A damn good cup of coffee, something tasty to eat, and after that some time with a nice book. I'm also inspired by things like stage design at the Bauhaus, optical illusions in art, horror and utopian architecture, memory, abstraction, dust, 70s do-it-yourself magic books, poetry of spaces, fantastic photobooks and so on. Attending professional workshops can also be very inspiring, for example last week I was lucky to be at Mirjana Vrbaski's workshop on Portrait Photography, that had intense discussions on portraiture in photography and lots of practice afterwards. Photography communities are also very stimulating - here in Berlin I used to be part of the former photography collective and project space called Exposure 12, an inspiring network of artists who’ve organized lots of exhibitions and events for the last 7 years.
As for my own pictures I am enticed by structures and surfaces, built by humans which are soaked with memories and history. I love to observe little details, like old women's arms holding each other during their dance. Sometimes I fall in love with a certain building which ends up being my muse further on, like the Erbgericht guest house.
7. What do you see yourself doing in a few years?
After spending several months in Konstanz teaching photography, I’m going to move to New York City next year with my boyfriend and live there for some time. In the future I would still like to work on bigger projects, teach in between and have enough time for family and friends.
Be sure to check out Andrea’s work at the following exhibitions:
Robert Morat Gallery at PhotoLondon (17 May - 21 May, Somerset House) to see Tanztee. The Foam Talent Show in London (18 May - 18 June 2017, Beaconsfield Gallery Vauxhall) will also showcase her work along with 24 other artists. If you’re going to Melbourne, Australia between June 9 and July 23, 2017, visit the Centre for Contemporary Photography to see Erbgericht and Tanztee.
To see Andrea’s work right now, visit her website: