Gen Residency Guest Blog: Hanne Lippard
Interview with the Artist
I’m Hanne Lippard and I’m a writer and artist. I live in Berlin but I’m half Norwegian, half British. I work with texts as audio and performances and film. Always text based but I trained as a graphic designer.
Did you always want to be an artist?
No, I thought I was going to do design or pure writing at that point, text based and working with rhythm but at some point I realised that was a bit too strict and always about print. I went to a very free school so in the end I realised you could work with film and speech too so that’s how I moved into non print.
You grew up in Norway, now live in Berlin and are half Norwegian, half British. How do you bring all those influences together in your work?
For me it’s all about translation, confusion of words, mishearing, misunderstandings and sort of re- appropriation of words, sort of a grammatical appropriation of poetry. I also love those “lost in translation” moments, and how I often think in two languages or more. Some people ask me which language I think in, when they find out I grew up bilingual, and I really don’t know how to answer, it doesn’t feel like I think on any language in particular. I also lived in Sweden, Holland, Denmark.. so it’s all very mixed up. It’s very interesting to be here trying to speak Italian not very successfully but still enjoying the trying and failing!
How many languages do you speak fluently?
I speak German and Swedish and Norwegian and English. My French is quite good and my Deutch is… I at least understand it, speaking it is quite difficult. It gets easier to learn more languages when you speak some already. With Italian, because I know French, it has it’s similarities but I find it not as easy as I thought it would be after four weeks. They speak very fast!
How has your experience been so far?
I’ve been here two weeks, it’s very nice to be here and know its for such a long time (4 weeks). You don’t stress with seeing things and I really enjoy being able to go to the city and make your habits, return to places, become a regular. It’s a beautiful place, a little otherworldy sometimes!
How do you think a residency like this helps artists develop?
While I’m here I’m detached of my daily life. I think a residency gives you the opportunity of focusing on something and studying it for a while, putting everything aside and not having to think about paying your bills and other daily chores.
Had you ever been to Venice before? What do you like best of the city?
I’ve been here twice before. Once on a very intense school trip, with 50 flatmates from Denmark, that was too much! The second time was last summer when I launched my book at the Biennale. I think it’s an extremely surprising city, there is always something to take in in every corner. It sounds cliché but it’s true, there is something extraordinary everywhere. It’s very theatrical which I find very nice. Even people sing on the streets!
You’ve explored quite a lot in your time here. Where would you recommend people go?
The main thing is wandering around without a map. Just walk very fast because tourists are really slow, try to get lost. There are nice spots everywhere!
Would you be able to describe what you are currently doing, work wise?
My work is always fragmented as I take snippets of everything: small fragments of words, small fragments of film. Very short fragments put together become a collage, either an audio collage, never visual, more text or audio.
What will you try to communicate with the permanent piece?
It will have to do with tourism, seeing something and being aware of it. The fact that tourists come to a city to see something without actually realising that other people live in the city on a daily basis.
Do you like travelling?
I do like travelling and it’s much more accessible and cheaper now and I find it very interesting. The internet also makes us travel somehow. People can be everywhere and at the same time they are nowhere. However I haven’t really done much holidays, I can’t remember going somewhere without a job or a specific aim.
When you are not working, how do you relax?
I like running, it’s the only way for me to not think about work. If I walk I’m taking things in or thinking I have to write this down. Running is one of the only times I can think about nothing. If I’m reading a book it’s about words so I can’t help but thinking about work!
As someone who works with words, do you have a favourite book?
There is a book I’ve read many times and it’s actually about Venice, “Invisible cities” by Italo Calvino. The book never mentions the name but he describes a city in very different ways and all very emotional states, it’s about moods and inhabitants and sadness and happiness and how the people live in the city and its said it’s about Venice.
Post one: 31/01
Venice as a stage
I am a writer and an artist who works with sound and other time-based mediums. Since I use my own voice in my work, the reading of my own texts can be considered a form of roleplay, for each text I subconsciously appropriate a different character which I already consider during the writing of the text.
I always experience Venice like a filmset, or theatre, of a play which never commences. Every new corner you turn is another stage, another part in another play, different from the last. It makes me think that here you can change your character every other second, and perhaps that is what the abundance of masks are for. One mask for every piazza, for every staircase, every cafe or bar, church or hotel, a hundred faces to change into and a thousand places to hide. Part of the joy of being abroad in a place where nobody knows you is that you can take on any role that you like, both good and bad. I take pride in having a good sense of direction, but when I walk in Venice, I always get lost. I have however never tried to walk around with a map, thinking perhaps it would kill the mystery. Instead I prefer to keep the mask on, and continue walking aimlessly, me being only partly visual, but with the full view to myself.
Post two: Tuesday 08/02
Joseph Brodsky talks about how Venice makes him feels like a cat. “Lounging down by the wall of the hospital, almost rubbing it with my left shoulder and squinting at the sun, I suddenly felt: I am a cat. A cat that just had a fish. Had anyone addressed me at that moment, I would have meowed’. I feel exactly the same about Venice, there is something about it which has a feline quality. I walk close up against the walls, without a particular goal, just moving, somewhere, sneaking past corners. And when I encounter a spell of sun, I take a seat and wallow in its appearance. But only for a few minutes, until I get restless. When I visit a cafe I try out different seats, corners, until I find a place which feels appropriate (remembering how my cat spent hours finding a good spot to rest when he first arrived at my house). Sometimes I even think I mishear Ciao for Meow in a quick passing.
Yesterday I came across these majestic lions down at the Marine museum.
They were sitting there in utter silence, as muted heavy marble figures, but their presence was overwhelming, it felt as if they were watching me. Brodsky also talks about Venice being ‘Lionized’.
Today the sun is out for the first time in a long while. I might just go out in front of the hostel and be a cat for half an hour.