Hanne Lippard

Hanne Lippard is a UK-born, Berlin-based poet, writer, and visual artist whose works primarily deals with the production and perception of language. Lippard has had exhibitions and performances across Europe throughout the past decade, but released her debut album Work last year on Collapsing Market. Last month she released her second audio document, PigeonPostParis via Boomkat Editions, which is a whimsical travelogue that showcases Lippard’s astute ability to draw parallels between ostensibly disparate ideas through text. Joshua Minsoo Kim talked with Hanne Lippard on March 20th, 2021 to discuss her two albums, handwritten letters, the differences between Berlin and Paris, and more.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Hello!

Hanne Lippard: Hello, how are you?

I’m good, how are you?

I just came back from Brussels. I have a year-long show in a place called MuHKA, which is a contemporary art museum in Antwerp. It’s been a lot of work; that’s the only thing I’ve done so far this year (laughter). But that’s because it’s a three-part show and it’s changing every third month so there’s a lot of planning and it will go on until February of next year. There are a lot of things happening in between but yes, it’s a bit unconventional to be committing to a show for a whole year. It was great, but I’m a bit tired today (laughs).

I’m sure! What does the show entail?

It’s something that’s a pilot project—it’s the first time they’re doing something called a “Superhost,” which is a bit of a funny title. The Superhost is the artist and [MuHKA] will develop a relationship with the artist through a whole year instead of having this one single solo show. They want to develop something together with an artist every year, digging a bit deeper into the artist’s practice. That means I’ll also be involved in discursive programs and an online radio show.

We’re gonna include performances and we’ve decided that these shows will be a retrospective showing of my work. I’ve been active for ten years but it’s a bit early to look back (laughter) but it’s interesting because you realize that you do have a lot of work when seeing it all in one room instead of in a PDF, y’know?

It’s a challenge to show things parallel to each other because in this show we have two sound pieces—sound upon sound usually doesn’t work. One is a spoken piece and the other is more of a sound sculpture. There are two sound sources in the same space—it’s interesting to see how that can work. That’s basically the concept behind the show.

Since it’s the first they’re trying this [Superhost program] out, things were not really thought-out sometimes. I had to be a part of the decision making. It’s been intense. I’m being polite there (soft laughter) but it’s alright now. I’m back here and have a bit of a break. In April I’m gonna concentrate on a bunch of other things.

Well, hopefully you can have some rest between now and April.

I’m taking Monday off, which is a bit crazy (laughter). These days, Monday is the new Sunday, or… who knows.

Are you the sort of person who feels the need to constantly be working on something?

It’s interesting, this idea of what “constantly working” is, especially if you work as a poet, or whatever I call myself. In the last years I’ve come more to terms with the fact that working is also thinking, which seems so abstract. It’s not the capitalist model, let’s say, of working. Or the Calvinist idea of working. I do need a lot of time by myself—time really by myself as a single individual.

I think the last year has made me realize that much more because before I would work a lot in a sense that I’m always performing or doing a show. A lot of artists do use their body in one way or another, but when I perform I use my voice, and I find that I’m more exposed than someone who does painting, for instance—they can hide more easily during their opening. To do performance is often very exhausting; even if it’s only 30 minutes, you tend to be quite dead afterwards.

I try to be more realistic [now]. When you put things into a calendar, having several hours between something seems like loads of time but when you’re actually in the physical body of that, you do need more time. I think the last year really proved that because there was more time, but I didn’t travel. I used to travel and have like three or four flights a week, but this time I had one flight and I was really dead the whole day. It was like, “What did I do when I had three or four flights a week?” It was nuts. I guess everyone has that pressure. Do you freelance?

I’m a high school science teacher and I do all this music journalism on the side for fun.

So you have the full-time job, or at least a fixed job, and then the freelancing. That’s pretty intense. If you only sort of freelance you have this guilt, almost, if you don’t work, but I guess you don’t even have that (laughs).

Oh, I feel like I have that to some extent. I always feel the need to be working on something. It’s an interesting thing… I’ve thought about it a lot this past year. I’m 28, which is not very old, but I feel like I’m at this point where I’ve done things in my life where I’d be okay—at least theoretically—if I were to die. It’s like, okay, I did something with my life. I sort of view everything moving forward as a bonus, but I also have this mindset where I want to make the most of my time. There’s a pressure, but there’s not this pressure of, “I need to do this or my life would have been useless.” Like, last year I did around 60 interviews.

And that was when you were working as a teacher full-time? So you’re spending your spare time doing this.

Yeah. I love talking with people, so that makes it easy. I feel like I have two modes: I either do things constantly, or I don’t do anything at all, and the latter can only be so fun for so long.

I guess right now, since we’re not really meeting people much in real life apart from real close friends, interviewing people might be a nice way to feel like you’re not completely cut off from the social sphere, no? It’s like you’re at a bar and meeting people at a bar you don’t know, in that sense.

Yeah, exactly. I wanted to ask you, when was the last time you wrote a handwritten letter to someone?

Oh, wow. That’s an interesting topic because my mom writes me a handwritten letter every month. It’s been less in the past years, but I never really reply with anything handwritten, I would always reply with email. And that’s like a letter, not a note, right? Like in an envelope.