Close to the Art: An interview with Julia Krahn

dsc_5689_21Julia Krahn is a German-born, Milan-based fine art photographer. Her full name is Julia Johanna Dorothe Krahn, and each of her forenames has their own way of expressing themselves creatively. In fatti, one of them (Johanna) likes to create art naked. Krahn explains the assumption of her many names with an alter-ego artistic manner: “every name has it’s own personality and so is working in it’s specific world:
Julia is occupied by the money, rent = commercial
Johanna is living in self-portraits, and poetry
Dorothe is the conceptual one, working a lot with the gallery in the last years, traveling and always thinking around”.

MH: I have a secret. I always remembered your name because my friends from school call me Johanna. Ha ha. I haven’t seen your work since I left Milan two years ago and am curious what you’ve been up to. The last I saw was your trip to Siberia and I was struck by that group of images. I remember one in particular from your black  and whites of a really beautiful girl alone in the middle of a square, the contrast struck me. I also loved your blown-out colorful bedroom series.

…What fine art project(s) have you been working on recently?

JK: I finally printed the “Rooms”-series for the last MiArt fair, from that story of Siberia that you liked immediately. I dsc_56944traveled across Russia in the footsteps of my grandfather, who had been imprisoned during the war. I did not find what I was looking for but I love summer in Siberia. And so I returned there in winter to see what it’s “really” like. I missed spring and fall where there’s an intense change in temperatures, they go from +40 to -40 in a month, can you imagine? The numbers in the title refers to the degrees outside, below -28 ° -32 °  The shots are very technical, using an optical bench, which are usually used in landscape in order to get the most from the detail. I did not place the machine on its stand, but on the belly, the machine becomes an extension of my body. They have more than 4-5 seconds of exposure. These steps are part of the “no photo”. They are not pictures of a room or what it contains, but the idea of a place and what could be. The determination of the space, both inside and out provides the freedom to breath what there is. The awareness of the border to understand the freedom of space.

MH: I love that you said you loved Siberia in summer, so you went there in winter to see what it’s “really” like. It’s pushing yourself to the contrast and trying all aspects of the human experience. I get that from your “Rooms”, to create a beautiful landscape out of spaces that many might find mundane.

I know you like to do self-portraits. Do you have a recent series of those? What inspires you when you do them?

JK: It was a long time Johanna didn’t take her space in my life. A year and a half ago she started taking her self-portraits again. Working on creations similar to angels, let’s say: angel-like-beings. Just now I am in the studio finishing a project for the gallery I am going with to Maco, Mexico in April. Currently I have some group exhibitions around in Italy and a small solo show in a gallery in Milan.  I also recently started My new angel-portraits in the studio… work in progress.

MH: I have to ask, how does it feel to show up at your first nude art show?

JK: When Johanna shoots her self portraits, it is a bit like a documentation of a performance.  She is there, and she IS nude, but it doesn’t feel like it. Her skin is her dress and often some color on it.  So when I see or show after taking the pictures I don’t really “see” the nude. Perhaps people have different approaches to the pictures, but I don’t see the nude inside, but (I see) Johanna, so it’s like being at an opening of a landscape series of Dorothe. In fact I guess at the opening it is not really Johanna that is following, but Dorothe, or perhaps Julia too. Sounds kind of schizophrenic… and it is. (Smile).

MH: Have you bought a digital camera yet? You were working in film when I last saw you in person.

JK: The only one I ever had for the castings and stuff I just gave away to a friend.  Instead I got a week ago another 10 x 12 large format camera  for my new series of portraits I am working on… the first thing I got for my new studio.

In my commercial work I always have less opportunities to use film, and normally I  rent a digital body for the medium  or large format to satisfy my client to the maximum.  I am not “against” digital, there are lots of situations when it is the easiest and cheapest solution (not always, people don’t want to understand that…but I guess I loose the Subject if I start with this discussion here) to get  the desired result.

In my personal work it is impossible, the opposite of my philosophy of photography.  I especially love the material fact of it,  the idea of materializing my feelings!! So I couldn’t work with digital/calculator and the idea of producing “nothing real”.  But perhaps I will work with digital one day in special research about that, ha ha,  thinking about my “nothing exists”-series….

MH: What has been paying the bills, are you still doing fashion work, or focusing on the kids’ market?

JK: Kids, kids, kids.
Recently I was  selected as “the best kid’s photographer in Italy”and I have to say I am really happy about the decision I took years ago to specialize.  It’s a perfect compromise for me in the commercial world. Lately I have also more requests for furniture-shoots ( I guess the “Rooms” did not only have success in the art world… ha ha), and the more styling and set work to do, the more I enjoy.  Take a look on, I started with Lorenzo my favourite graphic designer . We are busy from catalogues, campaigns, stands on the fair, to reportage, children’s books, volunteer projects and exhibitions. Everything around KIDS.


MH: Wow! Congratulations for your award. I agree, that it’s cool you stuck with the kids. I love the work I saw back when I lived in Milan, and clearly you are a natural with children, because I just looked at your Kids Project website, and it’s impressive!

Your “Creation of Memory” series (below), please tell me a little more about it. And is that resin?

JK: The exhibition was  shown for the first time in the galleria  Magrorocca,  Milan in 2006. They are 2cm plexi-glass in front, and 6mm behind, with hand rounded corners…

My research focuses primarily on My conception of reality.
Under the assumption that the Absolute Reality does not exist, in a sense we are already manipulating, our perception is thus immediately contaminated by several factors, the external search for balance with our inner selves. Everything comes from the way we look, listen, tell and save the world. The photo gives me the confidence of an on-first impact, because it is always conceived as a means of reproducing reality, a witness, a record. We believe. In this second time chance of looking,  I can ensure what emerges is not what you’re looking to be true, but its reality and what we feel in the emotional state that is beyond the photograph. The final result of job creation in the memory of my photographs is ultimately a precious object, which jealously guards the presence of a timeless memory materializzatasi (materialized).

In contrast, the large print souvenirs (below bottom) represent a photo-souvenir absolute, from the moment the overexposed image practically vanishes into thin air. This series of work, in their total fading, demand greater attention by the viewer to enable him or her to create an image of one’s personal memory of an emotion.

That is so interesting, what you say about reality. I’ve been reading a lot about that recently, how we create our own realities based on thought and perception, which is based on impressions we get from society, the ego and insecurities, and not from the reality of being.

MH: You have incredible personal style, Julia, when I would see you on the street, I would walk away thinking “geez-la-weez, if we could all be that freaking cool looking”. What influences your fashion?

JK: The lack of time and  money for the clothes, that I solve with the daily mood, some creativity and a lot of recycling ?! hahaha

JK Photography

milan   +39 340 7160809, +39  02 89695331
london  +44 785 5215647

Krahn is splitting her commercial work and fine art websites… Johanna and Dorothe’s fine art site is not up and running yet, but please check back in the future weeks at:


2 responses to “Close to the Art: An interview with Julia Krahn

  1. Wonderful interview…! The art is very impressive and I particularly like the discussion about Reality and its concepts. This is especially interesting beig a photographer…”Everything comes from the way we look, listen, tell and save the world. “

  2. I really liked that too, what she said about how we “save” the world. So interesting. I am going to do a follow-up piece on this group of work “Creation of Memory” next week.

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