In 1971 the first woman acquired a professional motocross rider license, but had to return that license once it was disclosed that she wasn’t male. During her stay in Yekaterinenburg Hanna Putz met „Sasha“ a female motocross rider and decided to accompany her to her training races. While rejecting bourgeois ideas about “authenticity” the artist appreciates the dissolution of camera awareness in moments the photographed individual has to focus entirely on a task, allowing Putz to come as close as possible to capturing genuine, unaffected expression, to avoid posing and “the epic moment”. A non-interventional approach is one of the pillars of Putz’ oeuvre, by using her camera almost in passing she further manages to mimic the natural eye’s saccadic movements, expanding the medium via successful “glancing”. Putz catches moments in which qualities that are distinctly perceived to be feminine are still appearing, a wariness in the handling of the machine, an almost fostering kind of taking control of the comparatively massive vehicle. As if faced with the care of the circus rider towards its animal, the woman retains grace in the midst of the sludge she is plunging into, like a gentle choreography. In this series consisting of 40 photographs the artist manages to capture close ups of Sasha during the race, revealing the intensity and focus that manifests on the racers face, reminiscent of Douglas Gordon’s & Philippe Pareno’s experimental take on documentary in „Zidane: a 21st century portrait“ – besides the close ups of Sasha’s intensely determined face the artist shows us Sasha relating to her partner and her dog, who seem to switch traditionally ascribed roles and traits organically. Perhaps the most striking fact is that during the race Sasha is not identifiable as a woman. In addition, her nickname, derived from Aleksandra, is used for both, men and women in Russia. Her suit, plastered with advertising, evolves from mere protective measure to a standard bearer uniform, as it is common for any sportsperson. But this just further underlines the contrast between the utilisation of a person for commercial purpose and its egalitarian handling beyond sex and the otherwise accentuated gender oriented contextualisation in our society. Human advertising colums are the traditional heroes of the present era, standing out as the best seems to naturally grant you such honors. Nowadays we have induced this rite of persona as status and currency into various areas, having spread gradually from celebrities to social media phenomenon. Personal preferences become assets, one day they might replace what we call soft skills today. Following Sasha through the race the series ends in a rave, a mass with male nudity on display. In this light the precursory photographs almost seem to be a preparatory act, a dulling, that leads to this apparently harsh event. This series contains fundamental dichotomies, incorporating tenderness and the raw, finesse and impetuosity, often in one photograph. The effortless reconciliation of opposites urges us to question obsolete assumptions and the need for categories.
Text by Sandra Petrasevic , 2017