Interview by Lennart Pettersson/ http://rimfaxe.motpol.nu/ (November 2009)
How have your interest for photography and photo art evolved? Is it something you have always had within you?
As a child I was very interested in moving pictures and made a lot of amateur movies, at the same time I was out and about taking pictures with a free camera my granddad had from his work.
Before and long into my teens I painted a lot, while I took some photos on the side. When I was 20 I really got started with photography. I had finished my high-school (gymnasium in Danish) and had graduated as linguistic student.
My entire school process did not inspire me except for art. Therefore I decided to do something I was passionate about, as a sort of sabbatical year, and therefore I was spending my time in a film and photo course
I had fun all throughout this year and found that the medium was relatively easy to me.
I had already decided on a sabbatical year so after the exam I dropped out as planned.
I had at that time and to this day no intention to get an education in the photo business.
I have since 2004 made pictures under the name Njordfoto and from here it has really picked up…
Where do you get your inspiration? Can you choose when it comes or do you have to capture it in the moment? How do you best find peace and quiet for creative work? Is there anything that prevents/disturbs your work?
My inspiration lies in the depth of nature, in the layers we have to make a little effort to see and feel. The many faces of nature in the forms of color and light inspire me to recreate them in man as a part of nature. Our instincts and old bonds of primordial threads are very important to me.
Native peoples also occupy me much, old crafts and shamanism in particular.
Sometimes the rush comes from within and fights to be expressed. Things grand or small are depicted through my work and it took a great amount of courage to show others my pictures for the first time, as you are completely naked in your expression, without filter, and for each picture you give a bit of yourself.
Other times I give the inspiration a little nudge.
I sit by an old dark brown wooden writing desk with fossils and other nice things from the sea I have found and make my pictures. I work best alone (only when) and best as darkness falls.
I always listen to music when I sit here, many different styles. From North American chanting to saami yoik, or from Norwegian shamanistic hymns to Swedish psytrance. Music does something that puts the pictures in motion and makes you reach further into your own self and all the way out into the furthest dreams.
How do you know when a picture is done and it has found its “true form”? Do you have a clear vision of the result or mood you want from the beginning, or is it something that grows and evolves during your work, that one thing leads to another?
It’s a process. When I sit by my writing desk I have no idea about what is going to happen.
I look in my image-library and see if anything catches my attention, in relation to the mood I am in. When I have found my primary picture I start playing with layers, colors and light. There are many layers in each picture, only a few are just one picture.
Suddenly it’s there! It’s hard to say when I get there, but when it touches me and does something to me, I stop.
Mental Reagens is a strong picture with an intensive and suggestive psychological depth. You want to turn down the noise and try to listen to what the picture says. The picture looks like a struggle to hear the inner voice in a world that gets drowned in other voices all the time.
Other times the picture reminds me of a sort of pain, a memory, that is still embedded in the soul. You wonder what the story behind this is – it is something mysterious that goes on in the deep.
Is listening to our inner self something we lack in modern society? Please tell us a bit about the picture and how it came to be.
Mental Reagens is a picture of a screaming silent inner self of all the children who are born in a world where they are lost. A world that doesn’t fit mans pure nature as it still exists in a newborn. Man and the world are constantly evolving; this is a natural process, that must continue as a part of nature order. Mankind has reached its limit, the rope is so tight that we strangle our own existence day by day.
Madness (money) controls our goings in our own world, from we are born to the day we give ourselves back to mother earth we reap much more than we sow. We are our own best friend, bonds of blood, honor and sense seem to have vanished to be replaced by power.
Confused little creatures that grow up to continue the circus.
We sing of what we do, not what we are.
Nature and the closeness to nature is a theme in your pictures. You get a strong sensation of love of nature, of the Nordic and of animals and humans. In some of your pictures you can make out man looking into nature and nature stepping forward in man. It is almost as if the distinction between man and nature is erased and they flow together. There is even a spiritual depth in your pictures that steps out at strong emotions and mood. What is the spiritual for you and how do you look at the spiritual in life? Is it ok to separate nature, man and spirituality or do they belong together?
Nature, man and spirituality are in my world inseparable. We are the same matter; we merely exist on different levels.
As we strive to be more and more knowledgeable about everything and let nothing stay in uncertainty, but always search for knowledge, we distance ourselves more and more from nature.
The fear of the dark (unknown) is upon us!
We have no relationship with animals and nature in general, spirituality is something “unenlightened peoples” have to do with, and the only thing we have left is ourselves and dead things! We love dead things, sometimes more than anything else. The fear of the dark means that we don’t want to lay on the bare ground, its filthy, like many animals are. We are chaste and afraid of the dark…such a shame.
Spirituality means a lot to me, it gives my life more dimensions, it expands and gives me wisdom. It fills my life with joy and peace. Without spirituality I would be an empty shell. In addition to this I must mention intuition. Many do not use it, do not trust it! Personally it is intuition that guides my where I need to be, tells me what to do, makes me what I am. This does not make me a better person than people who do not use it, but since we have such a powerful tool, why not use it?
Please tell us about these pictures:
Min Længsel. (My longing)
This picture is very personal, I appear in it myself both as a human and in the tree.
A search for what I shall do with my time on the Earth . Who am I, what do I stand for, where do I want to go? Powerlessness. I ask nature for advice, but cannot comprehend the answer.
Sibbe den gode. (Sibbe the good)
Sibbe den gode was a Danish Viking chieftain, and on this stone of remembrance it says:
Fólginn liggr, hinns fylgðu
(flestr vissi þat) mestar
dæðir, dólga þruðar
draugr, í þemsi haugi.
Munat reid-Viðurr raða
rógstarkr i Danmarku
The carvings are spelled with Danish runes in Danish custom with vertical rows.
I was, at the time very interested in my roots, so this period is characterized by the Viking age.
Den første Færd (The first journey)
This picture is an older piece and has some of the same story as Sibbe den gode. Very into the Viking age, I wandered out on my first journey in this new universe of old writings, new people and a fresh view on life. The sort of searching look, childish facial features, with a throng of information I am trying to piece together.
Udånding(Final breath) A black and white picture with countless layers from 2008.
Udåndning – Død(Final Breath – Death)
My grandmother died and that started many things. My mother was there when it happened and felt her soul leave the body. Thoughts was of where she could be now, what was going to happen now. I became a little girl with 100 questions.
On the other side was a reinforced mantra: You have to remember what is important to you. You have to remember to fulfill your dreams. You have to remember not to let dreams stay dreams. You have to remember that fulfilling your dreams is the biggest responsibility you have to yourself.
Only you know the path to your truth.
My photographic style. Kristina Tandrup Gittesdatter
Interview by kamerasiden.dk (2007)
When I explore the world it is the atmosphere that has my interest, if it is by the water, on the meadow, among ancient trees, in the company of others or when I take the train. I hold on to the mood, it can be a certain flash of light, a special color, smell or a different angle.
The quirky things are important to me, they are more exciting to get into and if I see a person with what some would call imbalance I do everything to bring that forth, which to me is an important detail that is part of creating the personality I initially see.
Inspiration comes when I see the waves bucking over the old fishing spots, when the suns first rays paint my face and when the bog lady weaves her blanket around my feet.
The ambiances of the north means a lot to me and the central thing in all my paintings is the north, nature, faith, history. My roots.
When I meet nature and nature meets me I must capture these moments that, to me, becomes pure magic and I feel a loss if anything in this regard slips past me.
I always bring my camera when I go on longer trips, and to my best ability have eyes that constantly see new possible subjects. Sometimes I come home with a lot, other times empty handed.
When all is said and done it is about seeing, to use your eyes. I have often gone on walks only to realize that I haven’t seen a thing when I get home. If I remind myself to be open to impressions when I leave, well that’s when the trip will be interesting.
If it is that sort of day and I have gotten a couple of pictures they go on the computer as I only work digitally. Here I have around a thousand pictures and the stories do as they please.
Often I do not have any specific idea unless it is an ordered job. If I work completely from my own imagination I start by shuffling through the pictures. If there is something that catches my eye and can tell its own story I keep it, if not it goes out. That goes for everything from a landscape, a person, an object or a ruin; I have to feel something when I look at the picture for the first time. Actually the picture makes itself, time and place disappears and I mix all I can…
Books, manuals or other material meant to ease my technical issues I don’t use. I’m the type of person who can’t read about something in order to learn, I simply don’t understand to read a text and then use it practically. I throw out the manual and start learning by myself.
Hardware is another thing I’m not concerned about it, it’s not important in the pictures I make.
I don’t draw in photoshop which is the only program I use. If, for example, part of a hand is missing in a picture I want to use, I go to my “library” and look for a complete hand I can put in the picture, if unsuccessful I have to photograph one.
I’m picking three very different pictures for this article so I won’t be repeating myself.
17 vintre(17 Winters)
17 Vintre as I chose to call this picture is made with very few layers. This is often how it goes when I do portraits; I won’t let the many layers overshadow the quirkiness or beautiful features a person has.
17 Vintre, my brother… I have picked this particular picture because it cuts all the way to the bone, my skin is turned inside out and the shivers start up the neck and goes in circles down the back.
I see his thoughts and his 17-year old thread, the strength and the fear of what is coming, the curiosity and the sometimes harsh years you have to go through to get out on the other side as complete person.
I deliberately put him in a thorn bush at the beach, it would support the masculine aspect and stand strong with the deep blue eyes I here have converted to b/w. It didn’t work in color, it got flat and muted. In this conversion I was able to fully tell what I wanted, my message and thoughts of the picture and my brother as the person he is, appeared little by little.
I have put some cloud formations on top so there would be a flicker in the skin tones so it wouldn’t be so straightforward, but got more nuances. I also put a corn field on it to give the sort of worn look. I truly use the cloud formations and fields very much; it is different clouds and fields I have photographed in different times of the year at all times. They give the crooks and depths I seek when I make a picture…
When I put this picture on the internet I could confirm that others who don’t know this young man gets the same impression from the picture and it tells the very same story I can give.
This is the motivation for me; it means an awful lot that I through pictures can tell, to me, strangers what happens inside me, what I want to pass on. Because every time I make a picture I use myself. Practically there is usually put 15-20 hours in a picture. Psychically it takes a lot of energy and thought. Adjustment of colors alone can take a fair amount of time back and forth, up and down. If they aren’t exactly as I want them, well then the picture is not done, I go on until I can, partially squinting, see that, “this is it”.
Farvel is the next picture, I’m including this because the process before the picture was interesting to me. The rings hangs by a hair you cannot see, it was held up behind some small bushes on a warm morning. The nights dew still sits in the bush and also hit the ring. I came home, rotated the picture so I got the fall I wanted, turned the colors way up and adjusted, and with that the story was underway.
Farewell said the beautiful woman when she threw the ring so it fell and fell, as she shot herself and her lover screamed. What once was, is no more, the symbol had to be absolutely clear…
Here the colors have been the attraction; they had to bring out the ring and its mystique.
A fairly uncommon picture from my hand as there is no layers.
En Jordisk rejse(An Earthly Journey)
The creature from the underworld. The stare puzzled, weary from the long journey, but now the journey in the world of humans begins. In disguise he begins his voyage over the Blue Mountains. He does not stop but follows the hidden tracks until he reaches his goal, a wisdom he will let his people pass on when he one day returns.
The hills of Mols is the eternity of Denmark in my world, and here the horse stood as I found it in a closure a little further up the path, but he had to stand here so I made him. The heavy, sort of mystical atmosphere didn’t exactly fit with the passing rainclouds, therefore I found a winter sky I photographed last year and added it. To cut a bit into the picture I tore out the color some places and the random lines appeared. The earthly journey was underway.
Many neat things have in our modern world been forgotten and replaced with gold, it is these things I want to bring forward in the end, for it is these things that in reality have given me the tools to reach these motifs…
Thanks to Rasmus Nielsen for the translation.