Interview by Lexi Jude (editor)
Twenty-year-old Hungary based photographer Eden Hanna Zell creates contorted visuals and coinciding realities through her self-portraiture. There is so much wonder, speculation, and complexity with her photographs that one of her self-portraits is going to be the cover of the first issue of Peculiars Magazine that will be released in October.
Eden Hanna Zell journey of understanding the awareness of one’s self and the curiosity of human existence and emotion is beautifully portrayed through the long exposures, transparent visuals, abstracted forms, and cool and de-saturated tones with her series Self-Portrait(s) of a Stranger. Her photographs transcend a level of psychological curiosity and disconnect by depicting the various coinciding state of existence and emotions; through showing the psychological absence and division of self, reality, and time through capturing herself transparently and skewed. The title of this series, Self-Portrait(s) of a Stranger, bluntly confronts the questions relating to a disconnect between physical and psychological self and the various states of existences.
She goes on to discuss the meaning of her series by stating,
“The series is Self-Portrait(s) of a Stranger. Self-portraits are a way of self-analysis to me and express my desire for understanding. I’m fascinated by the idea of using long exposures and capturing figures in motion, and I feel like it’s a great way to express the transience of moments and the transience of life. In some of the photos I’m almost transparent; sometimes my face is contorted by some internal struggle, and it seems that I’m between different dimensions of existence.”
I wanted to get more of her thoughts behind the photograph that will be on the cover of the first issue, the black and white slow shutter mirror self-portrait, she replies,
“There is lots of curiosity in me when it comes to exploring the complexities and divisions of human personalities. I loved the idea of using a mirror to capture a reflection of myself, something that’s normally temporary and is easily changed over time. I think a lot about what it means to truly exist. Creating this picture was a way of looking for answers. I feel like the picture shows a kind of detachment from myself, but I also wanted to express a deep sense of longing for connection.”
It is so mesmerizing that she could take something so ordinary, like a mirror, and twist the meaning into something that is also unrecognizable from how it is typically used. Neither herself nor her reflection is acknowledging each other bringing that sense of disconnect and contemplation of existence or coinciding realities and emotions. Ultimately, those elements helped create a more complex narrative with many underlying meanings.
There had to be a specific type of narrative or statement she was trying to vocalize through her work, and she goes on to discuss the narratives of her work and how they also relate to mental health,
“I think that making art can be therapeutic in itself, and it can also be a huge step for being able to express your story to others. The idea of articulating mental health issues through words feels daunting to me; I’m more comfortable with expressing my emotions through visual art. Art allows me to express parts of myself that otherwise would be hidden. Although most of my pictures are self-portraits, I don’t feel like my face is what truly matters in the pictures. My photos are more of an exploration of human emotions. Struggling with mental health issues can often lead to the feeling that there is something wrong with you. I want to help people ease this feeling and make them feel less alone. When I feel lonely, I often find support in other people’s art, so I aim to give this kind of support to people who look at my art.”
I was curious why the medium of visual storytelling of photography intrigues Zell so much and why she did not pick another art form, she goes on to explain,
“Photography is therapy for my soul; it helps me give a voice to my emotions. I have always had difficulties putting my ideas and feelings into words, so visual art is a great help for me. Visual arts have always played a big role in my life, but it wasn’t until last year that I got into photography. I’ve always loved observing things, and I feel like photography is a great medium for using this passion of mine. I still paint and draw sometimes, but these days I find myself being more interested in photography. It’s something that allows me to build a better connection with myself and others.”
As for what is next on her artistic journey she would love to find more people to take photos of in the future. She goes on to tell me how self-portraits have helped her a lot by giving her a better understanding of her emotions and how she would love to keep on creating them, but that she is also excited to work with people and get to know their stories through photography. She would like to make use of symbols, mythology, and allegory while continuing her interested in illustrating stories and dark and mystical fairy tales with her pictures.
You can find more of her wonderful work on her instagram & in our upcoming first issue 'through heavy water'.