Andrea Gruetzner's abstract architectural series Hive are shown here as part of #5 Architecture. Gruetzner shares her process, inspirations and what's next.

In a few sentences, can you introduce your practice and how you work?

You could say that most of my work is kind of an emotive architectural photography, hovering between the familiar and unfamiliar, between realism, illusion, and abstraction. My pictures sometimes appear to be straight photographs, painting, or collage that focus on the built environment. They simultaneously reference my personal perception of these spaces and their histories, and speak to a more general sense of how architecture affects behavior, emotions, memory, and – ultimately – our collective identity. I like the concept of making (things) strange to lead to a new approach towards a familiar place. By using these various techniques, I focus on and reinforce certain elements in the depiction of spaces.

What one thing has most helped to shape your practice?

It seems impossible to reduce my influences down to one particular thing to emphasise – isn’t it the combination of complex known and unknown factors that leads to an artistic practice in general? That said, a turning point for me was the intensive examination of cultural and media theory that I undertook during my study research when I was a student. My family history, which is linked to a specific region of the German Democratic Republic, and my interest in places in general also play a role. I am fascinated by how public and private spaces intertwine, how these spaces shape us, and, in turn, how we shape them. Ongoing challenging conversations with different people about images, approaches, and the discourses that they are embedded within are also an important influence.

© Andrea Gruetzner, The Interchange, from the series Hive, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Robert Morat Galerie
© Andrea Gruetzner, The Lawn, from the series Hive, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Robert Morat Galerie

Why photography? Why the still image?

Because I am hooked. Even after years of working in this medium, I am still trying to figure out my fascination with it. A photograph is linked with the real world in a distinct and weird way: it’s capable of doing so many things via this unique relationship with reality. I am striving for the ambiguous interplay between documentation and creation, concentration and chaos, straight and experimental, that is integral to the medium.

Where do your ideas begin?

They often occur to me in a loose form in moments when you wouldn’t normally expect them. I guess that’s the thing with creativity: you try hard – through intense research, scribbling, taking images, discussing – but the interesting part often happens in those in-between moments. That’s why it should be more of a priority to have downtime – it’s an important thing to learn.

© Andrea Gruetzner, Connect, from the series Hive, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Robert Morat Galerie
© Andrea Gruetzner, Fig.1, from the series Architekton , 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Robert Morat Galerie

What’s next?

Probably some downtime! Besides that, I am envisioning a book about my long-term project, Erbgericht, and would like to focus on my current work, Architekton, which I started last year at the Bauhaus. I also hope to work on exhibitions with my new series, Hive. The images are mainly collaged and are explorations of recently restructured educational spaces at Melbourne’s RMIT.  Eclectic, bold interiors draw links to retro computer games requiring the player to advance from level to level.  This design mirrors the gradually gamification of our environment. I like to question how architecture can have a performative power, and to what extent it can determine human behaviour and change our way of living.

© Andrea Gruetzner, Fig.5, from the series Architekton, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Robert Morat Galerie
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