Artist Tina Lechner Crafts a Whole New Kind of Costume Drama With Her Otherworldly Creations

Tina Lechner

Somewhere in central Vienna, artist Tina Lechner is working late into the night. In her sparsely decorated apartment, the photographer is making fantastical costumes out of materials such as cardboard and faux leather, based on little more than a hand-drawn sketch and her wild imagination. Some of her creations resemble Oskar Schlemmer outfits from the ’20s. Others are more like malformed blobs. In the morning, she’ll place her constructions on a female model or hang them lifelessly on the wall and take photos of them using natural light, exclusively with analog methods, and always in black and white.

From left: Madeaux Knole (background). Clarence House Coltrane. Madeaux Loulan. Clarence House; left figure (from top): Zimmer + Rohde Van Alen. Jane Churchill Skylon. Right figure (from top): Pierre Frey Akbisar. Jane Churchill Solace. Pierre Frey Gloria Tina Lechner

In Lechner’s often haunting results, the woman’s face is rarely seen. Only a hand, a foot, or the back of the neck might appear. “What the viewer can see is an excerpt of a larger process. What remains is a documentation of the perfect moment: the interplay of human, costume, and light,” says the 38-year-old artist, who is a part of an emerging wave of photographers explicitly shunning digital imagery. “I find pleasure and excitement in showing only these excerpts.”

For this commission she brought her work to life in color, exploring new interior fabrics in a series inspired by an imagined theatrical production. “In one picture you can see a stage with a theater curtain,” says Lechner, who is represented by Vienna’s Galerie Hubert Winter. “In another one there’s a costume on the floor looking like a second skin, seemingly worn just the moment before.”

From left: Designers Guild Prête-Moi Ta Plume. Osborne & Little Sotherton. Designers Guild Wakame damask. Designers Guild Wisteria Alba; Designers Guild Kalamos. Brunschwig & Fils Tongli Print. Robert Kime Bahar linen Tina Lechner

As for the models, she considers them an extension of herself. “The body is a temple, a battlefield, a temporal shell, something to show and to hide at the same time. My objects are shields, armor, prostheses that are beautiful and can become an ulcer at the same time.”