“It is a very alive process” — POOL dives deeper with Andrea Hackl
Andrea Hackl’s film A MOUNTAIN PORTRAIT is screened on Thursday the 14th of September at 19 at DOCK11 as part of POOL’s contemporary dance film selection – PEARLS 23. Her films SILENT FRAGMENTS (2020) and BELE BELTZA (2021) have been screened at POOL the previous years. Andrea won the artist prize at POOL in 2021 for her work in the field of dance film. In relation to the film BELE BELTZA, she has released a book, which can be found here.
Article by Silja Tuovinen
Photos & film stills by Andrea Hackl
How water and air move, in a spiralling, undulating manner, intrigues the interdisciplinary artist, Andrea Hackl. In fact, the dynamic of her artistic creation resembles this way of free flowing, dynamic movement. Andrea’s artistic approach emphasises creating work from and through the environment at hand. She is intrigued by a freedom and a life energy within a creative process, as well as in what arises from it. “I think as an artist we channel something beyond ourselves and bigger than solely our personal story”” she contemplates. For her this channelling requires an open space, and takes her to powerful natural landscapes.
Filmmaking like breathing
Andrea works often either on her own or with a small team. The creative process starts with a theme and a location as inspiration, such as an encounter with a mountain. She appreciates freedom, flexibility, and the surprises, that an open setting offers: “In that openness you can really allow for something not so predefined to arise – and that’s where magic can happen”. For Andrea, in a creative process that allows for an open space and tuning into the present moment, the soul and spirit get a chance to speak.
Andrea is playful. Her processes are exploratory and strongly intuitive from start to finish. “It’s a reciprocal process. I start from an initial idea and then with every step along the way, the process and structure become clearer. Even new ideas might be coming. It is a space where one thing informs the other.” As I listen to her, I visualise breathing. Each step of the filmmaking process offers a chance to look at the material from a new angle or modify the idea that was guiding the previous phase – back and forth, back and forth. “It is a very alive process” Andrea says.
When I asked Andrea to introduce herself, we delved into a deep discussion about possible definitions of dance film and the labels used around the format. What kind of label should, or could one use when working within the format of dance film? In the end her answer is about mixing, matching and multitudes: “Dance film is actually a medium where you have everything come together: the alchemy of the visual part during both the filming and post-production…. and there is the body moving and the sound, both natural and added, and then there’s always the spectators – it’s the alchemy of all those things, So, it’s a really interesting format that actually plays with different aspects in a moving, dynamic way.”
The aliveness and moldability of the format shapes what Andrea sees as possible for her as an artist. “There’s so much potential – like a painter you can work with an image, and I do, because I love it! I manipulate the images in post-production when I think it supports the work, particularly in terms of the images’ sensorial aspect. In my work, I am not aiming to represent reality – similar to expressionism.”
Andrea believes in the poetic potential of combining a moving body and camera. “Film allows us to take others to a different place, to zoom in and compose with the camera. It is a dialogue that is happening. There are many possibilities for framing, color, movement and abstraction.” While abstraction is one methodology, Andrea often finds herself working within very real, sometimes even rough landscapes when searching for inspiration, creating, and filming.
Body and the outdoors
Andrea has a love for mountains. The film A MOUNTAIN PORTRAIT (2022), shows scenes shot by Andrea herself from the Mont Blanc Massif, different locations in the Pyrenees as well as Mytika, the main peak of Mount Olympus. The film, made together with actress Elise Pol, is a portrait of mountains and reflects the meaning this inspiring environment has for the two artists as well as other mountaineers. The film is a collage of mountain landscapes, bodily exploration of the physicality a walk in the mountain requires, and quotes about mountains from the artists themselves and other authors, such as Rebecca Solnit.
Overall, in Andrea’s work the human body and body of a natural landscape are present. She approaches them both as kinetic, sensorial entities, that are deeply connected, dialogical expressions of one another. The different natural elements, such as sand, rocks, water, and air are part of Andrea’s work, because “in their materiality, they are really about our innate life energy”.
One artist that inspires Andrea is Finnish photographer and media artist Elina Brotherus. For her Brotherus’ work proposes a question: “How can you use the landscape to express something that comes from the soul?”. Andrea considers landscapes to have metaphorical, mystical potential, which is why she often works with them.
In her own words, the poetic and mystic dimensions of life are important because they help her pierce through what cannot so easily be put into words. For her this is the power of dance and any bodily work. She roughly quotes Mary Wigman by saying, that if she could put into words what she wants to express, she would not need to dance it. A body poetic is present in Andrea’s films, and she considers herself to be a poet above all: “The body is for me one of the most natural mediums of expression”. The body functions both as an outlet for diving inward, and for taking part in one’s surroundings.
A window to the outside
In addition to making video works, installations and dance performances that stand on their own, Andrea also makes live performances where she combines the medium of video with live performance, like in her performance project DREAMER. What interests her in this approach? “Through film I am able to open up a window to a different space – a window to the outside, and then this window to the outside is maybe a magnifying lens of what happens on the inside anyways.These two dimensions enrich one another. I feel that their meeting point is a space of alchemy that brings forth a deeper meaning.” To my view, Andrea’s explanation works as description of her artistic practice overall: first opening up a channel between the inside and the outside, the body and its environment, and then, morphing between them in a spiralling, undulating manner.
*born in Austria, based in Amsterdam
*working and living internationally throughout her career.
*interdisciplinary artist who works both physically and visually in the field of dance, performance, film and visual art.
*started making dance films in 2012
*she has presented her film work in dance film festivals around the world