Lena Hamm / Wiener
shot in Vienna, Oct. 13th, 2015 / published: Jan. 11th, 2016
Our very short trip to Vienna set a new mark on our own journey. After a very relaxed editorial shooting and some time shared with Viennese beauty Mula Kos, we met Lena Hamm, a model who made this city her new home, ditching the more established fashion capitals for a more fitting base for her studies. Though the day was cold and grey, it was a pleasure to share some time and some thoughts on psychology, art and the essence of the city with a fellow Bavarian. We hope you'll enjoy our exclusive feature!
Lena, thank you for finding a little time for us and for fighting the cold on that day. You suggested to meet at Albertina. What makes the place so special to you?
The Albertina is one of my favourite places in Vienna. The architecture is great, the combination of historic and contemporary elements, such as the titan roof, reflect the exciting essence of this city. Furthermore, from the terrace you have a great view towards the opera and you can watch people buzzing around down on the streets. In summer I often hang here with my friends, enjoying the panorama and the nice weather.
Albertina is currently hosting an Edvard Munch exhibition until January 24th. His works are famous for masterly portraying the inner state of mind of modernity with all its existential struggle, fears and sense of detachment. Munch and Freud do not just share the period they lived in but also the themes they worked on. How interested are you as a student of modern psychology in the time of its very beginning?
The topics they worked on are still relevant. For example love, death or solitude, those topics are existential parts of life, back in their time and also today. I find it impressive that both weren’t afraid to rebel against taboos. Although I disagree with some of Freud's theses, it’s important to understand them as he was one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. Besides it is great to study psychology at the University of Vienna, as it was the breeding ground of Freud’s theories of psychoanalysis. It makes his concepts somehow appear more tangible, more related to the present. In the arcades of the university you can also find a bust of Freud, so he literally left some visible marks there.
Theories and art evolve with their time. As busy as our times are, you are not only studying psychology, but journalism, too. At two separate universities. What would you say: does psychology make a better journalist or rather journalism a better psychologist?
I wouldn’t say psychology necessarily makes a better journalist. But starting from scratch, in the profession of a journalist you need to be an expert in certain fields, to have something to write about. Psychology is an interdisciplinary science, which means it includes different fields of thinking. This aspect made psychology so appealing to me, as it combines many of my interests. The other way around, I think the studies of journalism could help in any profession, as it sharpens your mind for critical thinking. It made me realize the world we consume through media is not an objective depiction of reality at all. Media is made by people who are influenced and who make subjective choices. So media has to be seen as a filter, that selects certain information and creates an image of our world from a certain angle. And pointing it back to psychology, also the mind of every human being is a filter that creates a specific image of reality. There is no reality as such visible for us. Our brain filters sense impressions, matches them with experiences and leads to action. So when I look at this scenery of people walking around Karlsplatz, my mind could create a different reality than your mind, although we are watching the exact same place. It doesn’t mean either one of us is right or wrong, we just filter differently.
Are your studies of any help in your job as a model?
To be honest I don’t put that much psychology in my work as a model, haha. When I’m shooting or doing runway there is something like a switch in my head, I just enjoy the moment. It’s creative work, so it’s better just letting it flow. But I love that I have the possibility to hold on all those adventures and experiences I made within the fashion scene through my writing.
How is Vienna as a base? Does it ever feel like a little hideaway from all the buzz of the fashion capitals?
Vienna is a beautiful city, I like the tension between old traditions that are still alive here and exciting cultural impulses. But for me the best thing about Vienna is my apartment here. It is light and spacious and part of an old building. My dream place. I could never afford it in a city like Paris. So yes, you could call it my little hideaway.
Despite living in Vienna and being agency-represented all through Europe, you are a native of Munich. How much of a Bavarian soul still lives in this young cosmopolitan lady's heart? Do you still manage to attend Oktoberfest?
My heart has the shape of a little pretzel! I feel bound to Munich as my family lives there and I grew up with the Bavarian culture. This year I could even manage to attend the Oktoberfest! I was lucky, because mostly it interferes with the fashion weeks in Autumn. But I went there the last day, which is a quite special day of the festival, too: at 11pm, when the last beers have been served, everyone jumps on the benches, swings with sparklers and sings together to mark the end of the Oktoberfest. Some people cried, I don’t know if they were so touched or so sad because their beer was empty.