Lois Hechenblaikner: Tirolean Perspectives at photokina 2014

This series examines the photographers who exhibited at the Leica Galerie at photokina 2014. The focus of this year’s exhibition concept was on impressive photography from the world of music. It embraced all facets of music photography, and today, we focus on Lois Hechenblaikner, a photographer who takes a serious look at folk music fans. The fans that he photographs for his “Living Sculptures” series are die-hards – people who will plaster a photo of Hansi Hinterseer to the back of their dog. He wants to discover what motivates people to go on repeated pilgrimages to the concerts put on by their idols. The result has been photo series like the one produced at the artificial snow slopes and lake near Kitzbühel at the Hahnenkamm ski area.

Lois Hechenblaikner was born in Reith in Alpbachtal in 1958, where he grew up in his family’s culinary establishment, and got to know the impacts of tourism from an insider’s perspective. After nearly two decades of travel reportage – above all to Asia – he now photographs on more familiar terrain.

His glimpse behind the veil of the idyllic is provocative. It is as though Hechenblaikner is looking at his Austrian homeland through a concave mirror, turning the Tirolean life-style photographer into the bogeyman of tourism managers. Hechenblaikner often documents the unadorned reality behind the leisure business, the merciless marketing of nature and the landscape. He directs the same realism toward those of his contemporaries searching for an ideal world. For nearly twenty years, he has been photographing people from the ‘harmony’ milieu, fans of folksy music, for his Living Sculptures series. Equipped with his Leica S2, he goes to concerts of the Zillertaler Schürzenjäger and the Kastelruther Spatzen, and follows Hansi Hinterseer fans as they go from place to place. He doesn’t try to embarrass his contemporaries; but he does take a close look at them. You are allowed to laugh, but Hechenblaikner is very serious about his criticisms.

Q: What image is your favorite in this gallery and why? A: My favorite is the picture of the woman in the yellow shirt with the pacifier in her mouth. After I took this picture, I kept thinking on my drive home, “How can it be, that a grown woman chews a pacifier?”

Q: What, if anything, do you hope the viewer sees or gains when looking at these images?

A: When visitors look at my paintings, they are looking at the longing of folk music fans, their search for identification and their need to heal the world. It is also the longing for harmony. After two hours of the concert, theirs is a world without question, without problems, without sorrow or worries. Let me put it in the words of Indian polymath Rabindranath Tagore, “For they have been brought up in illusions, and they must have illusions to console them.”

Thank you for your time, Lois!

– Leica Internet Team

To learn more about Lois and view more of his images, visit his websiteSee #DasWesentliche impressions from photokina here.

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