Bernhard Handick is a German-Sri Lankan photographer, multi-media artist and founder of Shoutout Magazine. He combines found footage and his own photography and often paints (digitally or manually) onto photographs, using collage-techniques in order to give the work different dimensions and layers. We were curious how his work comes about and where new inspiration comes from.
Can you tell me a bit about your background and how did you become a photographer?
My creative evolution began with music, but I felt like I also wanted to say something, so I started writing poems and short stories. Then I did an internship as a theater painter at Schauspielhaus Bochum, but it took me so long to finish just one picture! So, when I bought my first camera I instantly knew I had found my medium.Since then, I am working on my style and use different techniques and mediums to create new work.
You paint and re-work on a lot of your photographs, which seems to give them a less 'flat' appeal - when did you start doing that and why does this seem more interesting to you than the photograph itself?
I have been working with that kind of techniques since 2010 and it´s still in progress. I love to sample and create new body of work. It's a mix of analogue and digital and a combination of spontaneity and working from a concept.
You sometimes use found images, for example in your “Master Class” series. How do you source the right images and what is your feeling when 're-using' existing images?
It must have the right interplay between the portrayed person and the painting. It feels great to combine; it is wonderful to see that different contents from different historical times and mediums can be part of one unique piece of work. Decoding keeps our head working.
You use the naked (female) body a lot; what interests you about photographing nudes?
It is my way of working like a sculptor.
Can you tell us a bit more about the “Who is it(Official)” series?
Who is it (Official) is a never-ending body of work. It´s about portrait and identity, which is often the case in my pieces. It's my typical mixed media way of working really.
What was the psychology or idea behind “(Under)cover”?
(Under)cover is a series based on identity, my way of showing more than just one person's identity. I give the viewer a kind of surface. It sort of a game where I invite everyone to fulfill their own story by decoding my pictures. I like to bring the viewer back to his memories, a kind of inner mirror.
On another had,I might also be influenced by my mother's cultural background. She is from Sri Lanka and I remember since I was a child, I liked the traditional masks they wear for different types of ceremonies. Just imagine, there's this mask which can transform you into someone else! It doesn't really matter what kind of layer you use, if it´s a mask or a painting, the projection adopts a modification. I am still at the beginning of my journey and I hope to learn more and more about all the different cultures, traditions and ceremonies around the globe.
In “I am your daddy”, you pay tribute to the artists that inspire you. The result is beautiful because of the subtle style details that clearly represent every artist, yet very subdued. What was your process for this project?
I had had this idea in my mind for a very long time. When I saw these specific photographs I worked out the different styles of the artists I appreciate the most: Man Ray, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol etc. and brought together all those things that make them who they are. Most of my works are full of layers, both conceptual and visual.
Are there any contemporary artists or fellow-photographers who inspire you? Who or what do you generally look to for inspiration?
The internet is a fantastic library and I love browsing through all the different platforms, but I do try to visit as many exhibitions as I can. It's so important to see your favourite artworks out of the screen, it can be informative and it´s great to face the work in the way the artist likes to view and show his work.
Your images and compositions are very sculptural, do you draw and plan out photos before you take them or do you just let them happen on set?
Most of them happen on set. But I do daily work with my own body and try different poses at home. Man in the mirror, I can assure you these are wonderful pictures... haha, just kidding! Maybe one day I will work on a series making some self-portraits, and work out some posing. I need a bigger room and mirror.
I want to ask you about your “Remember” series, do the alterations sometimes happen while you're working on the post or do you always know exactly how an image will turn out when you shoot it?
When I was working at my 'Remember' series all looks where created by post-production.
Actually this series is the bit of my mixed media work.
And finally, can you tell me a bit about Shoutout magazine? How did it come about and what role do you play there?
I am the founder of Shoutout Magazine. I started with my blog and one day, I developed this concept. The focus is on topics like the human being in general and the various ways of constructing as well as de-constructing identity. It brings together both the unknown fresh talent , and the well-established artists. It is the variety of different approaches artists choose that gives Shoutout Magazine this uniqueness.