By: Tina Umer, Fotografisk Center
Joakim Eskildsen is a Danish photographer of the younger generation, even though we cannot really say that because of the vast collection of books and series he has made. Starting with contemplative imaginary of the raw and still European North to the more exotic places from around the Mediterranean area, India, Africa and more he slowly moved on to explore a more socially oriented photography, while living and getting close to the groups of people he has photographed. We can see a vast selection of his works presented at the exhibition in The National Museum of Photography in the heart of Copenhagen, called “A world I can believe in”.
The discovery of the everyday life of marginalized groups together with the writer and partner Cia Rinne would make a blend of words and pictures to get a stronger and more intense output of their discoveries. They would bond with the people they photographed and return to visit as friends. This is a capacity that enabled the works to be so strong, sincere, but still including exceptional understanding of light and form, which is visible in all works by Joakim Eskildsen.
The exhibition is build around his books and the process of making them, but still the photographs are so strong that they catch the eye of the visitor at the first sight. The vivid colors used with feeling and the masterly use of light gives them a look like they were made by an old master of painting, skillfully transforming realistic scenes into mystic stills, as well as giving a strong character to the people portrayed. They are in their usual environments, slightly posing (thus dedicating the moment to the camera), but Eskildsen still manages to make them merge with the spaces like pieces that are essential to give the whole a bigger meaning.
Inside the exhibition space in The Black Diamond, the modern part of the Royal Library in Copenhagen, shows us a wide range of his works. Starting with Nordic Signs (1994), where he explores a more subjective feel and impression of the northern European countries, then passes to warmer Portugal fishing village, African lands, Cuban soil to the Roma Journeys (2006). This is perhaps his most known project depicting different Roma societies across Europe and Asia, extensively living among the Roma people to give the most sincere insigth of their lives. The last project depicted is an ongoing series about his own roots, history and beginings as a photographic observer of the world. Joined later with the formation of his own family leads us through a magic world rethinking the immediate surrounding and the warmth of home manifested through photographs, from landscape to children portraiture.
The installations show us processes, like contact sheets with marks and drafts, photo book spreads or wider selections of photographs, which all work homogeneously by themselves as well. Passing from intimate small pictures to bigger prints gives a good dynamic to the exhibition. Combining that with works that depict from the Northern impressions, exotic reportage to personal family themes, we get an exhibition that can satisfy aesthetically and deploy our minds in social matters, attracting even a more demanding viewer.
The author is exposed in many ways, as we can see a more filmographic side of photography with his contact sheets and the broader selections of works. We can learn how a photo book is not an isolated idea but a very delicate and organic process that employs choosing, evolving, loses and letting some things go.
The exhibition at the can be seen until 30th January 2016.
All photographs copyrighted by Joakim Eskildsen.