Nowness - Jeremy Liebman's documentary short sees artist Elias Hansen felling trees and blowing glass in the woodland surrounding his upstate New York home and studio.
Interview by NOWNESS:
Escape to upstate New York with the rough-hewn modern sculptor
Visceral artist Elias Hansen fells trees and blows glass in the dense woodland that surrounds his home and studio in today’s short by Jeremy Liebman. The New York-based photographer and filmmaker, who has shot for Pin-Up, Apartamento and032C documents Hansen’s hands-on approach to art, with a crushed transit van, treehouse named Fort Crunk and a wood-fueled hot tub creating a makeshift sculpture park on his property. “It's a way to observe certain aspects of materials and structures without the pressure of selling them,” says Hansen of the installations. “They're really just for fun. Something to look at when I'm hanging out in the yard, and to observe as they slowly decay.” Beyond the pieces scattered throughout his garden, Hansen has had solo exhibitions at such galleries as Jonathan Viner in London and Maccarone in New York have combined hand-blown erlenmeyer flasks, test tubes and raw timber to become an ad hoc art laboratories. Renowned for his partnerships with New York artist Dan Colen, Hansen’s collaborations also feature his brother Oscar Tuazon, a celebrated artist in his own right. “We both love to work with our hands, and we both really appreciate well built objects and quality tools,” says Hansen, on their working relationship. “But Oscar is very intellectual, and I have always been more visceral. We love to work together, and I think a lot of the enjoyment comes from having such different approaches to our work.”
Can you tell us more about the catalyst of your career?
Elias Hansen: My artistic pursuit has always been craft-based. It's only in the last 10 years that I have even tried to make my own art. I have always been more interested in the craft of making someone else's work. Artists are fun to work for, as the work is always different and challenging, and the end target is always shifting.
Does your work have a kind of purpose in mind?
EH: My sculptures are about the stories they tell, and the handmade objects have so much to say. I really enjoy just turning them over in my hand, looking at the little details, trying to imagine the hands that got them to where they are. Glass can be such an amazing object in this way. An object built for a specific purpose can have such a wonderful combination of perfection and heavy handedness.
Can you elaborate on a project you've collaborated on with your brother?
EH: We went to Alaska and spent a week and a half on a remote island north of Kodiak building a shelter from sitka spruce. We built a stove, a staircase and a wall with windows. The piece was for a project at the Seattle Art Museum, but the real objective of the work was to describe a much larger space than the room we were working in. We wanted to take the viewer out of the space and into their imagination.