Isabel Dietz Hartmann is a 24 year old photographer originally from Seattle, WA and is currently in her final year at The School of Visual Arts in New York City. She is interested in themes surrounding isolation, human development, identity, vulnerability, connection, and loneliness. Today we are excited to ask Isabel a few questions about herself and her work.
The photographs in this body of work explore my interest in external representations versus the reality of interior lives, and how this manifests psychologically. I’m interested in how we attempt to protect ourselves by constructing identities along gendered, racial, and socioeconomic lines that ultimately isolate us from others. I’m curious what happens psychologically when we take on a particular role — and how in many ways what we are projecting externally does not line up with our internal experience. I aim to use photography as a means of identifying theses imagined differences and then breaking them.
AB: Hey Isabel, it has become increasingly rare to see photographers adhering to strictly black and white, yet your work is modern, attentive and successful. How do you feel about being asked for explanations on your practice?
IDH: I’ve always appreciated black and white images for their stark, neutral space. In my photographs it’s most important that people focus on the connection to the subject, and I find color distracts from this. I also think the tension between an older medium with more contemporary subject matter adds another layer to the work. I’m curious with whether the ideas I’m dealing with are timeless or are still the same.
AB: What art do you most identify with?
IDH: I am most interested in work that deals with psychology or the human condition through portraiture; be it painting, drawing, photography or film. I am most drawn to work that deals with vulnerability, especially with subjects that appear to be tough and closed off.
AB: What do you draw from outside of the art world for inspiration?
IDH: It’s important for me to make work that deals with day to day existence rather than from what’s happening inside the art world. The most inspiring thing for me is when I can find a way to relate to someone who is far different from me or hard to access emotionally.
AB: We can definitely see that level of awareness in your images. What role does photographing your subjects play in your relationship with them, if there is one?
IDH: For me, photographing people is a way to get beyond how somebody presents themselves to the world on a daily basis. I am often attracted to photograph others who overtly try to portray a certain image, something that is becoming more relevant with the rise of social media. When I see someone who embodies this, it hints to me that they are trying to protect themselves from something very vulnerable. I often find myself acting in this way myself, and also fully believe that I may be projecting this on to other people. However, I do believe that having somebody photograph and really look at you serves as some sort of validation for this vulnerable interior. In some odd way, the space I am trying to create with my subjects is often what I wish others would do for me.
AB: What would you like to see more in the art world? What would you like to see less of?
IDH: I feel like a lot of what I am seeing now is highly cerebral. Not that I think this is bad, but I would like to see more of a balance between this hyper cerebral thinking and one that is more personal or emotion driven. I think these two ways of thinking are deeply intertwined, and I would like to see more work that reflects that.
AB: Any particular projects coming up or anything else you are excited about?
IDH: Alec Soth, what’s next?
For more of Isabel’s work, please visit her website.