The world of Ursula Sprecher and Andi Cortellini is a foray into the diverse microcosms that we as humans all inhabit. At the microscopic level, their photography showcases a number of groups of people, all unique on a personal level, brought together by a single passion. On a macroscopic level, it speaks to the human condition, that despite our differences we can find common ground in our unique experiences. Their work revels in the human experience, and the story each of us has to tell.
How did you two meet?
We originally met at the school of art and design in Basel; we both did a apprenticeship in photography.
Why did you decide to collaborate together?
Since a couple of years we’ve shared the same studio.
How would you describe your separate approaches to art, and what of each of your unique forms of expression come through in your collaboration?
Ursula’s work is very conceptual and deliberate. Her work is filled up with thoughts and relations. Andi’s knowledge about art is on one hand theoretical from art school during his photographer apprenticeship and on the other hand looking at work of good friends who are artists and talking with them about art.
Why hobby buddies?
One day Andi asked me to enter a project for a specific magazine; so I wrote the concept for this series, which I had already in my mind for a long time.
What attracted you to the photographing of people who have hobbies?
Through the series Hobby Buddies we can show the broad variety of people in our society; people in all different ages, men, women, kids, different religions, social classes. All kinds of people, all kinds of interest, and all kinds of themes.
Do you think there is a transcendent unity in the people in each picture besides the hobby? Is there a common thread in who they are as people?
No, we don’t think so; not each group and not every person is related to all of the other members.
Are they similar in a particular way of acting or thinking?
At least they have one reason to meet each other regularly in this specific constellation. Sometimes it might be the unique reason to have contact to some of the group members.
How did you pick the different hobbies you photographed?
We always were looking for a huge curve over the whole series, to show the entire variety of hobbies, interests, and people. With this aspect in our minds we were looking for a big spectrum of hobbies.
Were there any hobbies you tried to photograph that declined you?
It was not always easy to find the group we were looking for; but eventually we would get there. The series is not complete; some groups and themes still are missing. It doesn’t matter, it will never-ever be complete-able!
Who was the most fun to photograph?
phuuu — there were many really good situations. For example, when we shot with the Swiss Garrison (serving the 501st Legion), we set up that Star Wars situation. Actually it was not really funny, rather a little scary. We set up that scenery in a quarry. It was in summertime, early in the morning, and really hot. Nobody was around there. Then those guys showed up in their uniforms, we really felt like being part of the film.
At the base level, when do we start to decide what we like and what we don’t like? We’re influenced a lot by our parents and society and people end up at incredible extremes of society, liking completely different things, where do you think that comes from?
To me it’s a mixture of possibilities, phantasy -do you have a phantasy that could be interesting – and then you just try it- and fortune -when are you where, and who inspires you…
What drives passion?
Desire. Satisfaction. Also frustration.
It gives you a good reason to get up in the morning, just to follow your interest.
Which was the most difficult shot to compose and why?
The poodles were difficult; although those dogs are so well trained… We couldn’t take more than three shots, then they did not pay enough attention anymore.
How did the different hobbies you were photographing influence your composition?
We always work on the final point; each time we just want to create one tableau. The idea of the composing, the background, the clothes, the set itself, the amount of people in the photograph, finally the lighting, everything is composed. Nothing just happens.
Did you go to the shoot with an idea in mind?
Everything was always planned. Those photographs are compositions and carefully staged group photos. Nothing happens by accident. Everything happens by intention. Inspired by the old group photography of the 19th century, the tableau’s were slowly arranged, and we shot when everything was as we wanted it to be.
Or did you wing it?
No accidents. Even the clothes and the accessories, everything was planned.
What did you learn about yourselves, and about your own desires through the series?
It doesn’t matter what you do, where you do it, and with whom you do it; it’s just great to indulge a passion. And it also could be great to share it with other people.
You were exposed to a very diverse array of people, did the series cause you to pause and meditate on the things that give you meaning in life?
This is the main concept of the project, all these different people in our society, with these different interests, we all live together, near each other. There is plenty of space for everybody.
Will you collaborate together again?
We still realize projects together, but right now we’re not working on such a large concept.
What are your hobbies?
Andi is a drummer in a band.
Ursula likes pasta and red wine.