by Jörg Heikhaus | article was written for and published by small-things.eu, Jan 29, 2010
With her hand-knitted and hand-sewn installations and objects, Nina Braun has found her very own, distinct way of creating unparalleled artworks. She has also produced a film, that turns a really big thing into something very small.
Bringing her characters onto the walls of Hamburg, Nina Braun started out as one of the rare female voices in street art years ago. At the same time, the passionate skateboarder headed her own clothing and skate-supplies label (SUMO) – producing a fashion line for girls that know how to kick-flip a board. Nina’s first merits as an artist derive from that period in her life, when she was taking her career into her own hands and out of the university.
With SUMO being the first (and still only) label run by and made for skateboarding girls, she had her hands full being a business woman. Despite being satisfied with the results and the impact SUMO (which was always not just a clothing label, but a strong statement as well) had on the whole skateboarding scene, after 6 years she canned the life in the fashion industry and focused completely on the arts.
Using her skills as an expert craftswoman familiar with traditional techniques of needleworks, she started to hand knit icons of skateboarding: her first major installational work was a “shop-display”; a shelve full with sneaker replicas of classic skateboarding symbols. Highly detailed, fluffy and ideal to be worn around the house (if someone would put expensive and unique artworks on their feet, that is).
The sneaker show (”Sneak like a Panther – Puschen for the cozy generation”, with Puschen being a german idiom for slippers) was our first exhibition together, back in 2005. Since then, Nina exhibited with us in Hamburg two more times. And we have been travelling together quite a bit: to show her art in Barcelona and Miami (2008 and 2009). When presenting her sneaker installation in New York 2007, Nina couldn’t be with us, but you can imagine the enthusiasm her work was greeted with in a sneaker-crazy country such as the U.S..
Her work has developed strongly since our first colaboration: Nina has been going bigger and bigger in her last obejcts, going from true-to-scale sneakers to sewing a whole city full of skyscrapers, with a large, knitted creature towering over it. Don’t even try to imagine the days and weeks she spends realising these works! It’s the small things that make a difference: Every element within the artwork is important to her, even hidden and very little components are created with the utmost care.
While her dedication to perfection and detail naturally reduces her artistic output, it makes working with her so enjoyable – as a gallery owner I can blindly trust her that even if she knits hundreds of maggots (for a life-size grave hill), the work is excecuted with such excellence and individualism, it will timelessly last for eternity.
Lately, Nina has been producing stop-motion-animated short films as well. Going to work with the same devotion to the tiniest detail as in her objects, during her latest film “Business as usual” a diminutive hut is literally carved out from a skyscraper. All hand crafted. All filmed frame-by-frame. Probably one of the most time-consuming artist films I have seen. And also one of the best. Ever.
Nina Braun has come a long way. And she has found plenty of admirers and supporters for her work along the road, which is the key to survive as an artist. Her artworks grace homes and private collections in Europe, the U.S. and Asia. She has been widely published in books and magazines around the globe. Given her labour intensive work process, shows are rare with her, and you have to be patient if you want to see original new art by her. Look forward to May 2011, when Nina Braun returns to the scene with her first solo-exhibition since two and a half years – we just pencilled her into our calendar again.