When I talked to Harry, artist name Grit Hachmeister, about his solo exhibition “Ach” at ASPN, one thing that stuck with me was that he is content. I think that’s partly because he’s happy with his latest direction: sculpture.
His medium of choice is clay. With ceramics, there’s this mix between control and the unknown. You do all the calculations and do everything right and it could still blow up in the kiln. You choose just the right glaze and it might come out very different from how you imagined it. Things don’t always turn out as expected – once you accept that, you can learn to love the results.
Born and raised in Leipzig, Harry studied photography at HGB and now lives in north Berlin. Leipzig seemed like a bubble, or his life here did. He’d go from the studio to uni to the studio and home again. Same route, same people, same same. He says it’s impossible to stay in your bubble in Berlin. You see every human condition, the good and the bad. There’s no escaping what’s going on in the world.
Harry’s new departure into ceramics was kind of a fluke.
He had applied for two art programs, one in New York and one in Braunschweig. He got the scholarship for one at the HBK Braunschweig. To be honest, he was a little disappointed not to go to New York. But Braunschweig turned out to be much more valuable in the end. This yearlong program gave him plenty of time to experiment and try new things. They had a huge kiln and he thought, why not try his hand at ceramics?
It may seem like a strange jump from photography to ceramics, but I see similarities in working with clay and developing color photos. In the color darkroom, it is completely dark. You are working blind. As you feel your way through, you have to just know where things are, which side is up. You never know what you have printed until the fix is set and the lights are on. Like with firing ceramics, there is a science to it, and yet it has this element of chance that you can allow yourself to accept.
Harry loves the intimate contact the ceramic medium affords.
With a camera, there is always the lens between you and the subject. Even when the subject is you, the camera objectifies, where the clay draws you in and forces you to touch it. You cannot avoid feeling the contours and the totality of the objects you engage with. It connects you. It gives things an actual body, rather than relying on light and shadow to create one.
The imperfect nature of some of Harry’s ceramics is also a departure from photography. Photos are of one angle and a specific place. With the ceramics, it’s the whole that’s perfect, rather than the details. Maybe that’s also why Harry seems to be so relaxed and assured.
“Sculpture occupies the same space as your body.”
Another body that Harry has been working on recently is his own. This is evident in the form that some of the sculptures have taken. Yes, he has joined the gym and started sculpting his own physique. I understand the satisfaction of actually affecting your body.
I love that the dumbbells are fists, or are they simply doing curls? I also love that the barbell resembles something out of the very first weightlifters around the turn of the century. They weren’t so much bodybuilders as they were a symbol of strength.
Bodies are not new to Harry’s work.
They have been there the whole time. His original inspiration was fashion photography. This is evident in the series of self-portraits also on display at the exhibition. The photos were selected from the many that Harry has taken since his time at HGB. Like any student who passes into career, they show a progression. At first I thought they were sets because the locations seemed to have so much personality, but none are staged. Each was taken in a place of temporary residence.
I think Harry has finally found home within himself. The exhibition at ASPN is a wonderful mix of all things Harry. You’ll be drawn in by the wallpaper that bears his image. The dogs in the drawings will make you smile. The ceramic pieces will access your imagination. And the images will let you in on his journey.
Grit Hachmeister: Ach
6 April-11 May
One to catch during this weekend’s Spinnerei Rundgang
Sat 27 – Sun 28 April