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Hayley Eichenbaum: „2.450 Miles of Kitsch“


On occasion of the exhibition „Elbphilharmonie Revisited“ at Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Anika talked to three photographers, who  are well know for their architecture photography on the photo-based social network Instagram. In our interview they talk about work, Instagram and the architecture that fascinates them. Hayley Eichenbaum is one of the three interviewees. 

Hayley Eichenbaum, also known as @inter_disciplinary, is a small viral hit among photographers on Instagram. You probably have to look hard to find a magazine or a blog that hasn’t featured her pictures. Hayley is pretty open about her anxiety disorder, and how photography has helped her to cope with it. She rides her car along the Route 66 to calm down. While doing that she shoots pictures so surreal, colourful, and clean, as if they were stills from a Hollywood movie that is yet to be made.

Are you a restless soul that likes to travel the world with a camera?
I believe ‘anxious soul’ better describes my nature. For years I channeled that anxiety into installation and performance-based work. Performing conceptual gestures in front of a critical audience helped confront my panic disorder. Yet, when school ends you lose that immediate audience and mentorship, and I found myself slipping back into some sluggish and anxious ways.

Shortly after graduating from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in 2013, I found that driving for long periods to nowhere was soothing. By bringing a camera along, I began focusing on the road and my surroundings rather than my fears.

I have heard that when an infant can’t stop crying, you should take them for a car ride, as the sound and motion mimic the womb. Driving does that for me: My car has become my most comforting space, with my camera becoming my most meditative tool.

How do you find your photographs?
The first thing I am attracted to is color. Second is architectural geometry. Third is a striking sky-scape. It has taken many months of driving the American Midwest and Southwest to find these locations. At times I will linger at a location for days, sometimes weeks, for the perfect weather to hit. And I get lost. A lot. Often times on purpose. It doesn’t really feel like an adventure when your navigation app is directing your every move.

What is important for you when taking a photo of architecture?
Aside from color, a structure’s balance and surrounding landscape are key players. The structures that I am attracted to seem to land in that sweet spot between modern and postmodern. Often, they are a façade of something that once was very loved.

I certainly seek out kitsch while travelling, which in turn, makes the post- production process a lot less intensive. When editing, I aim to enhance and clean up what is already there. That is why Route 66 has become a favorite photographic subject of mine. It’s essentially 2,450 miles of kitsch. I feel an image is complete when it successfully looks like a movie-set – surreal and somewhat impossible.

Your work has gone viral. Has Instagram changed anything for you?
Instagram has essentially shaped the last four years of my life (and my future). After receiving my BFA I had a very different idea of where my career was going to go. Then I began sharing my travels on IG and soon realized I had tapped into something big.

The platform has led me back to the community and inspiration I had lost after graduation. It has also provided me with opportunities I would never have had otherwise. I owe my current career to IG.

Are there any photographers that inspire you?
Most of my influencers are those I have discovered through Instagram. Three of my major inspirations are listed in the answer to the next question.

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Petra Collins on Instagram.

In addition to that list, photographer and creative director Petra Collins is rocking my world right now. She’s young and plucky, and already so accomplished.

Another is Matt Henry, who often combines two of my favorite things: Palm Springs and 60s iconic culture.

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Juno Calypso on Instagram.

Finally, I have been one of Juno Calypso’s biggest fans for years now. She’s making some serious waves in the realm of self-portraiture.

Who are the 3 people all of us should follow on Instagram?

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Sarah Bahbah states in her Instagram profile: „You’ve probably seen my art on someone else’s account.“

It is so tough to narrow it down to three. But currently I am really invested in @sarahbahbah. I am obsessed with the way she presents her female-centric photographs as if they are film stills with would-be subtitles.

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Kelsey McClellan on Instagram.

@kelseyemc has a delightful series out now called “Wardrobe Snacks.” She may also be the queen of hunting down perfectly manicured hedges. All of it is so satisfying, especially when curated through Instagram.

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Aleia on Instagram.

Finally, I have to mention @aleia. She is a creative force. I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing a lot more of her in the contemporary art realm. Anyone who is a fan of beautifully crafted miniatures, comfort food, and snooping little snails will understand what I mean.

Thank you for the conversation, Hayley!

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The German version of this interview was published here: Blog Deichtorhallen.

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