In support of our exhibition Adrift, we’re asking our exhibiting artists four questions to help you get to know a bit about them and their work.
Lene Hald works with visual ethnography and visual communication. Her photographic work explores the meeting between social research and narrative art and adresses issues of fashion, feminism and the phenomenon of trend research.
Lene’s work focuses on both a theoretical and art based practice. She studied for an MA in Photography at Goldsmiths, University of London (MA in Photography and Urban Cultures) and also holds an MA in Visual Communication from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts – The School of Design, where she from 2013 will be studying for a PhD that explores how fashion studies and visual methods can be used as tools to understand, reflect and communicate issues of youth culture and identity construction. The PhD is made in collaboration with KEA Copenhagen School of Design and Technology.
What can a photo do that other representations can’t? What is it that made you choose photography over other media as a way of communicating?
To me photography is a unique way of understanding and exploring the world. It is also a very immediate way of giving response to a creative need. Photographing is a way of documenting, but it also a way of symbolically representing emotional experiences in that way photography is a way of representing the world in a language, which is more immediate and tactile than words and numbers. I also really like the interaction that takes place with the people I photograph. Photographing may be a way of objectifying, however it is also an effective way of showing how we are all different yet very similar and interconnected. Portraiture is for me a way of seeking out these similarities.
What’s the first thing you remember photographing and why did you choose it as your subject?
I have always been drawn to photographing people. I am interested in how people present themselves visually and how this is linked to universal as well as personal stories. Most of my projects have been focusing on the sociology of fashion. How people communicate through clothing and how fashion constitute a primary symbol in the construction of our identities. I am genuinely interested in the lived experience of those that I photograph; their narratives, dreams, and longings and I guess that is part of the reason I have been working with ways to integrate statements from those I photograph in my work. I have also been using participatory visual methods, meaning that I have been inviting those that I photograph to supplement my visual work with their own photographs or drawings.
How does your photographic process work, where do you start? Is it with a theory or idea, or is it driven by aesthetics or a desire to use a certain technique or piece of equipment?
It is quite different depending on the project. However, I often start out by having an interest in a give cultural phenomenon, a group of people or person and their way of life. Photographing is my pass to enter a world else not accessible and a way of documenting and symbolically represent my experience.
Have you found photography to be an effective research tool? Has it uncovered ideas, which have changed the path of your thinking?
Most definitely. I am soon starting up a PhD project on visual methods, sociology and fashion studies (a collaboration between KEA-Copenhagen School of Design and Technology and The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts – The School of Design). I am very excited about that. I believe that photography is an important way to add another level of representation to a research project. It is also a potentially strong way to address socio-cultural issues and themes of race, class, exclusion and empowerment. In a photograph you are able to encode an enormous amount of information, as well as symbolically reflect themes and concepts. In my research project I will be investigating how fashion studies and visual methods can be used as tools to understand, reflect and communicate issues of youth culture and identity construction.
What’s your favourite fstop?
I do not really have a favourite fstop.