Birgitta Lund Copenhagen, Denmark
Birgitta Lund is a photographer based in Copenhagen, Denmark. She studied at the International Center of Photography in New York where she lived and worked for 18 years. Her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe and is held in collections. She has received the HSBC Award by Fondation HSBC pour la Photographie (Paris), Foghdals Photographer Award (Copenhagen) and the photo book In Transit (2005) was published by Actes Sud (Arles). Last year her latest project The Garden (2013) – shot in the Danish amusement park Tivoli Gardens – was published by ‘Space Poetry’ (Copenhagen). Birgitta Lund is represented by Julie Saul Gallery, New York.
Birgitta Lund was chosen by photographer Charlott Markus
Laatikkomo’s interview with Birgitta Lund July 3rd, 2014.
L: Where are you from? What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places have influenced you?
BL: I was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. At the age of 22 I went to New York to study photography and ended up staying for 18 years. Both New York and Copenhagen are cities that crawled under my skin and stayed. I am a hybrid of both places and the people I connect with them.
L: What is your earliest memory of photography?
BL: My father’s photographs. All through my childhood my father’s camera had a strong presence. He didn’t shoot the traditional staged, posed family snapshots, he was much more free and candid in his way of documenting the everyday life around him.
L: From your current CV, I noticed that you studied photography in New York, in the late eighties well before the introduction of the digital era. What is your relationship to the process of taking and developing pictures? What type of photography do you primarily use today?
BL: I got my first digital camera in 2002 and have been shooting digitally since.
L: Some of your older work (at least on your website) is a combination of photography and installation. Is installation something you are still interested in exploiting in your current work?
BL: At the moment no, at least not to the extent I used it in my earlier work.
L: You are obviously creating a narrative of your own. For example in your series “The Garden” (2013) the faces of your subjects look horrified – or at least show strong emotion -, but when you look at the series as a whole you can identify the setting as that of an amusement park. What is your interest in subjecting the viewer to this kind of emotional contrast?
BL: My fascination with Tivoli Gardens didn’t have so much to do with the fact that it’s an amusement park. I was more drawn to its fictions. Here is a fictive miniature universe, right in the middle of Copenhagen, with part of its scenery based on late 19th century Western European fantasies of “The East” – a fairy-tale–like imaginary Orient with fake palaces and minarets as the backdrop of the park. And here are Tivoli’s visitors—of all different nationalities and ethnicities—walking around in this carefully lit up landscape. A world of dreams, fears, fantasies, love, longing and imagination is already embedded in the park. It’s a constructed parallel universe, where the visitors are transported to a fabled “East”, while remaining within the four walls of Tivoli Gardens.
L: Do you consider your work as in someway involved in the politics of current society?
BL: I returned to Denmark in 2003 after 18 years in New York—to a country quite different from the one I had left. Like most people returning home after many years abroad, I had a somewhat distorted idea of what I was returning to. Reality had over time gently been overpowered by the imagination. But the fact was I returned to a Denmark that was now part of the coalition forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan (my own brother was deployed in both wars). And on the homefront the country was dealing with how to adapt to being a more multicultural society. Immigration laws were often being politicized and two-dimensional versions of ‘us’ and ‘them’ were dominating the public dialog. I was chocked and struck by the amount of space fear had been given in a country I remembered as being much more tolerant and open towards people of other faiths and ethnicities.
In The Garden (2013) Tivoli Gardens is used as an allegory to reflect on the above.
L: Could you list 5(or more) words you were thinking about when you made this series (shown in Laatikkomo)?
BL: Fiction/Reality, (Middle)East/West, ethnic/religious tensions, immigration, integration, war, dreams, fantasies, fears, racism, nightmares, love, longing, loss, and the whole idea of imagining another world.
L: Part of the Laatikkomo project asks the artists to choose the next photographer in their link of photographers. Without revealing the identity of the artist you have chosen, can you express what qualities are you looking for in the artist you will choose, what criteria will guide your choice?
BL: As the next photographer in the Laatikkomo link I have chosen Nadia Mounier, a young Egyptian photographer living in Cairo. An intelligent visual documentarian with a lot of poetry and wit added in her photographs. And I love her subtle commentary on women’s role in society.