We are delighted to bring you a deep dive into the artistic journey of Janine Hamrin, one of the talented photographers featured in our ongoing exhibition "Beyond the Hill." Janine, a 30-year-old artist from Kungsbacka, Sweden, currently studying for her Bachelor's degree in Photography at HDK-Valand, shares her unique perspective on nature, identity, and her personal history through her captivating work.

The following interview has been edited and condensed.

Artistic Journey and Education

COMA: Thank you so much for your time, Janine. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey as an artist so far?

Janine: My name is Janine Hamrin. I'm 30 years old from Kungsbacka, Sweden. I live here with my boyfriend and my dog. After high school, I started photography mostly for fun, but it was after a breakup that I realized photography was something I wanted to pursue. Initially, I leaned towards commercial photography, but I soon discovered that art photography was something I'd been doing all along without realizing it. I’ve always been fascinated by family history and the power of photography to capture relationships.

COMA: What inspired you to pursue photography and visual art even before this personal event?

Janine Hamrin interview

Janine: When I was little, I loved to dance, pursue musicals, and theater. I was very shy, so I always wanted to express myself in some way. I have always loved looking at pictures, especially family photos from friends and family. The camera gives me a way to explore and understand myself, maybe even more than words do.

COMA: How has your education at HDK-Valand influenced your work and artistic process?

Janine: These past two years have been transformative. It’s pushed me to explore different techniques and concepts. It's a balance between gaining confidence and embracing uncertainty. At school, we are encouraged to experiment and it’s okay to fail. This has been a scary but ultimately liberating experience for me.

Themes and Concepts

COMA: Your work often explores themes such as identity, vulnerability, and relationships. Can you elaborate on how you approach these themes in your art?

Janine: I often draw from my own experiences and memories, as well as those of others, to explore these themes. My work is very much about questioning where I come from and understanding the people I'm connected to, whether through direct relationships or generational ties. For instance, I often use my family's archival photos and mix them with my own photography to create a dialogue between different generations. It's a way to explore relationships that I missed out on or never really knew.

COMA: Dreams, fragments, and symbols are entry points to your work. Could you share some examples of how these elements manifest in your pieces?

Janine: Symbols and dreams play a significant role in my art. They often start as small thoughts or fragments from dreams, or everyday objects that hold personal significance, and then grow into something larger. For example, in my project "Couloir" (originally an artist book that includes the works "The Girls" and "Fuji”), I found a photo in my family archive of my grandfather on my father's side with two strangers that deeply resonated with me. I saw both myself and my grandfather in this image of a young girl and a man the same age as my grandfather when he fell ill. This photo was the starting point for this project, to explore our shared interests in mountains and photography. Mountains are a recurring symbol in my work. They represent home and peace for me, much like how the ocean does for others.

COMA: You describe your memories as a jumble, a chaos you seek to clarify. How do you translate this concept into your art?

Janine: My memories are indeed chaotic, I see myself as both structure and chaos, in both my process and my memories. From my own experiences, I need to revisit and understand them. I dissect, sort, and separate through collage, building something new from the fragments. This helps me make sense of the chaos. But sometimes it gives more questions than answers.

COMA: Can you discuss how vulnerability plays a role in your work?

Janine: Vulnerability is a key theme in my art. It's about revealing and hiding parts of my history and experiences. By blending my photographs with family archives and creating collages, I highlight both the fragility and strength of human connections. In "Fuji," for example, I blended images of mountains from my grandfather's archives with my own photographs, creating a tactile and intimate piece that represents our shared passion. It's a way to connect with him and explore our bond, despite the physical and temporal distance.

Specific Works

COMA: Can you tell us more about 'The Girls' and 'Fuji'?

Janine: The works are part of my artist book "Couloir," which is the French word for "corridor." It refers to a narrow, challenging route in the mountains. The pieces combine my photographs and images from my grandfather, who was in Tokyo, Japan, in 1955. Two generations that never knew each other.

"The Girls" combines my photography of Mont Blanc with a photo my grandfather took of three girls. It’s about merging our experiences, highlighting our connection across time and space. "Fuji" blends images from both of us, symbolizing how we build a mountain together. It’s printed on fabric and designed to be tactile, reflecting our shared bond.

Techniques and Processes

COMA: You blend analog and digital processes in your work. Can you explain your techniques and how you decide which methods to use?

Janine: I blend archival materials with my own photography, shooting analog and then processing digitally. I scan the photos, edit in Photoshop, physically cut and embroider them, and then scan them again. This back-and-forth process helps me bring the past and present into a new narrative.

Influences and Inspirations

COMA: Are there any artists you admire or who have influenced your work?

Janine Hamrin interview

Janine: I draw inspiration from many sources, including teachers, classmates, and my family. Some artists I admire are Katinka Goldberg, Thomas Albdorf, and Anna Strand. My grandfather on my mothers side from Austria, who was a musician in the 70s, also inspires me. He pursued his passion regardless of the audience size, and he’s a role model for me.

COMA: Beyond visual art, what other sources inspire your work?

Janine: Personal experiences, music, and film all influence me. A word or sentence from a documentary can inspire a project. Nature, especially mountains, plays a huge role in my work.

Future Directions and Projects

COMA: What are you currently working on, and are there any upcoming projects you’re excited about?

Janine: I have two new projects: one about my grandmother’s garden called "The Last Rose," and another exploring my Austrian heritage and the possibility of getting an Austrian passport. I’m excited to see where these projects take me.

COMA: Are there any upcoming exhibitions we should be aware of?

Janine: Yes, my book will be featured at the Landskrona Photo Festival (September 6 to 22), and I have an exhibition in March in Kungsbacka. I’ll also be exhibiting with my classmates in my third year at Valand in May next year.

COMA: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your work or artistic journey?

Janine: I love being in the creative space. I’m considering applying for a master’s in photography to continue learning and stay in it. I’d also love to visit Japan for further inspiration and maybe even study abroad for a new perspective.

Stay tuned for more insights and exhibitions from our featured artists. Follow us on Instagram and visit our website for updates on "Beyond the Hill" and other exciting projects at COMA.

June, 2024 - COMA Editorial team