"The Milky Way" by Hannah Modigh

Jul 28, 2016

Hannah is a Swedish visual storyteller who splendidly depicts narratives about humanity and life that are present far and wide. In her series “The Milky Way”, Hannah presents the struggles that we all suffer during adolescence, a period of life full of expectations, excitement and discovery. With unobtrusive and very expressive images, the photographer engages the viewer through daily scenes that show teenagers reflecting or playing and enjoying time together in order to get to know themselves, the others and how to work out relationships.


Next we want to present an interview we had with Hannah.


am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?

HM - I was born in Stockholm and later lived in India for a couple of years when my father was working there. Then back to Sweden, where we moved to Österlen and lived in the country side as my mother had a horse farm. Afterwards I moved away from home when I was 16. During my adult life, I have lived in Paris as well as Copenhagen where I attended the art school Fatamorgana. Furthermore, I went to the Nordic School of Photography in Biskops Arnö and the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. Now I live and work in Stockholm. As an artist I only work on my own series, exhibitions and books and sometimes I work at a shelter for women. My books have been published by Journal, they are: Hillbilly heroin honey, Sunday mornin’ comin’ down and The milky way. These series have been exhibited around Sweden and Europe. Lately I have been working on a new book, Hurricane season and on the exhibition with the same name, which is now at Fotografiska in Stockholm until the end of August.


am - How did you start in photography?

HM - I started when I was 13 years old. My mother gave me her camera and I joined the local photo group in my small town with mostly older men at that time. But there was never another choice for me. I just knew that this was what I was going to focus on. This also gave me the calm and the feeling that there was no more stress since it is for life.


am - What inspires your work?

HM - Music is the biggest one. It puts me into the mood where I open my heart and feel things, it keeps me going when it is tough and makes me feel that life is big. In every photo series I’ve done I always have a reference to music. I am really bad at doing research so my way is that when I want to understand the mentality of a place I study the music from that area or this culture. Like country, blues or hip-hop music, etc.


am - What is “The Milky Way” about?

HM - This series is about a special mood, appearing only in a certain time in life, the period between being a child and an adult. It is a time of longing for life and for independence. The era of excitement over what might happen, and all the experiences that come along the way. Experience as a measure of how far you have come and as something to collect and compare with others. The series depicts girls and boys aged 12-16, how they approach each other, form groups and seek identity. This is also a story that has no beginning nor end, it goes in loops because it is not only about these young people. It is a phase, an age and a sense that everyone must go through. Perhaps this is one of the most secretive things that one can portray, something that reminds us as adults a crucial time in our lives that we can never get back. This period affected me so strongly that after 10 years I returned to my home city to take pictures of it. The strong emotions that I felt during this time are something that I, as a photographer, am looking for all of the time, and not always to take picture, but to get to know them. I have focused the work on the body movements and how to look after the body, which is very specific at that time. I think that the images say a lot about uncertainty, confusion, excitement and longing. Why is it called “The Milky Way”? This comes from the Greek mythology about milk. During this period, we take perhaps the greatest step away from our parent’s chest.


am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?

HM - I have plenty, Vilhelm Hammershoi, Ilya Repin, Mona Hatoum, Nan Goldin, Inta Ruka, Philip-Lorca diCorcia among others.


am - When you are not taking pictures, what do you do?

HM - I spend time with my family or work at a shelter for homeless women,  practice yoga, go to exhibitions, drink wine with my friends, pick flowers and berries or travel.


am - If you could travel and stay in a place for one year, where would you choose to go?

HM - Mali, never been there, but it is a dream.


am - Favourite songs / bands at the moment?

HM - Townes van Zandt for ever and at the moment Raury, Blood Orange and Dej Loaf, also more…


am - What’s your favourite movie?

HM - Maybe ”Persona”, by Ingmar Bergman


am - What are you reading at the moment?

HM - "Les petits chevaux de Tarquinia" by Marguerite Duras


am - Do you have any project in mind that could be a personal or professional challenge?

HM - They all are. I don´t like talking about them before they are finished.


am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.

Hannah's work was featured on our Sixth Printed Issue published in 2018

that you can purchase here.


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