Ditte Knus Tønnesen

Interview with artist Ditte Knus Tønnesen

Ditte Knus Tønnesen, Photo: Maria Märcher Schumann

Ditte Knus Tønnesen, Photo: Maria Märcher Schumann

Mail interview by Kirstine Schiess Højmose, curator of the exhibition Inner and Outer Landscapes, Fotografisk Center.

Ditte Knus Tønnesen (DK) is one of the five artists in the exhibition ‘Inner and Outer Landscapes’ at Fotografisk Center August 16 – September 21, 2014. More info: photography.dk 

What will you be showing at the exhibition Inner and Outer Landscapes? How does this work relate to the exhibition theme?

I am working on a series of new artworks that thematically deals with the fact that for the sight to work you need to look at something recognizable, something you can find guidance in. In working with this I aim for the opposite – to break down the recognizable motif at the image surface.

In that way the artworks operate from an abstract place where it is harder to make sense of your senses. Confused. Foggy. The question is whether your reaction turns into nebula phobia (fear of fog) or nebula philia (love of fog).

The new art works continue my sculptural experiments with photography also seen in my project ‘Arises For Something Else’ shown at the exhibition Young Danish Photography ’13 at Fotografisk Center.

By changing the predominant points of focus in the photography and not just valuing the motif of the pictorial surface I reach a point where I can bring together photography and other materials in a more democratic way. From that point I can work with the spatial elements of photography. In relation to the sculptural study of the photographic medium the physical interaction with the exhibition space and the viewer becomes an important part of the artwork.

Ditte Knus Tønnesen, If You Are Earth Then I am Water, 2014, photographic emulsion and varnish on MDF boards, 220 x 166 x 130 cm (installation shot)

Ditte Knus Tønnesen, If You Are Earth Then I am Water, 2014, photographic emulsion and varnish on MDF boards, 220 x 166 x 130 cm (installation shot)

Characterized by a form of objectivity the artworks take their beginning in specific motifs from the Arctic and Nordic nature.

Through these journeys I experienced at once an estrangement as well as cohesion with a landscape that is very different from the Danish landscape. In order to get closer to this ambiguity I work towards a disruption of the landscape itself as well as the experience of the landscape. In that way the artworks relate strongly to the inner space even though the left over motif is from the outer space. Yin and yang.

/ Jeg arbejder på en serie af nye værker, der tematisk tager udgangspunkt i det vilkår, at for at synet skal fungere må man se noget genkendeligt – noget man kan orientere sig ud fra. I mit arbejdet med dette er processen modsat rettet hen imod en opløsning af det genkendelige motiv på fotografiets billedoverflade.

Værkerne bevæger sig således ind i det abstrakte rum, hvor man har sværere ved at finde mening med sine sanser. Forvirring. Tåget. Om ens reaktion så bliver til nebulafobi (angst for tåge) eller nebulafili (forkærlighed for tåge) er spørgsmålet.

I de nye værker, arbejder jeg videre med min skulpturelle tilgang til fotografiet, som set i mine værker ‘Arises For Something Else’ der blev vist på Ung Dansk Fotografi ’13 på Fotografisk Center.

Ved at ændre på de prædominerende fokuspunkter i fotografiet, og ikke kun tillægge motivet på billedoverfladen værdi, når jeg hen til et sted hvor jeg kan sammensætte fotografiet med andre materialer på en mere demokratisk måde – og herfra arbejde med de rummelige elementer. I forlængelse af denne skulpturelle undersøgelse af det fotografiske medium bliver den fysiske interaktion med udstillingsrummet og beskueren en vigtig del af værket.

Værkerne starter med at være meget konkrete, præget af en form for objektivitet, i form af motiver hentet fra den arktiske og nordiske natur.

Igennem disse rejser, opstår der er en fremmedhed og samhørighed på en og samme tid med det meget udanske landskab. For at komme nærmere ind på essensen af dette, arbejder jeg hen imod denne opløsning af landskabet såvel som oplevelsen af det. Så værkerne relatere sig på den måde meget til det indre rum, selvom de fysiske motiv-rester er fra det store ydre rum. Yin og yang.

Ditte Knus Tønnesen, If You Are Earth Then I am Water (detail), 2014, photographic emulsion and varnish on MDF boards, 220 x 166 x 130 cm (detail)

Ditte Knus Tønnesen, If You Are Earth Then I am Water (detail), 2014, photographic emulsion and varnish on MDF boards, 220 x 166 x 130 cm (detail)

How do you relate to nature in your artworks? Do you think about nature as something original, something natural or as nature as a cultural idea?

Currently I find it very present and interesting to question if we know what nature is at all and if what we consider to be ‘natural’ today can be anything but at cultural landscape? Is it even possible to speak of an unspoiled nature today? If not what does that mean for our understanding of nature?

/ Jeg er inden i en fase hvor jeg syndes det er super aktuelt og interessant at sætte spørgsmålstegn ved om vi i dag overhovedet kender forskel på naturen, altså om det vi betegner som naturligt i dag overhovedet kan være andet end et kulturlandskab? Findes den uberørte natur overhovedet mere og hvad gør det ved vores begreber og forståelse af naturen.

Ditte Knus Tønnesen, A Romantic Death, Dawn, photographic emulsion and varnish on MDF board [59 x 57 cm]

Ditte Knus Tønnesen, A Romantic Death, Dawn, photographic emulsion and varnish on MDF board [59 x 57 cm]

Do you have a specific relationship with the Danish landscape where you grew up? It seems you are attracted to more fierce, grand and breathtaking landscapes?

I have a wonderful relationship to Danish nature from biking trips to long hikes and lots of swimming in the sea. I remember the Danish landscape as a romantic fertile meadow with wind from the North Sea and shadowy buzzing in a small grove. But I think that most people working with photography need to explore themselves by travelling – it is in the nature of photography. During the previous years I have taken a specific interest in the Arctic landscape. I think it has to do with its stormy contrasts in the colours quickly changing from grey, brown, black and yellow to green, turquoise and white. But also the shapes: flat, twisted, sky high and way down. It simply has a completely different scale.

/ Jeg har et dejligt forhold til den danske natur, fra cykleferier til lange traveture og masser af havbad. Det danske landskab står i min erindring som en romantisk frodig blomstrende eng, med Vesterhavsvind og blæst, og en skyggefuld summen i en lille lund. Men jeg tror de fleste, der arbejder med det fotografiske medium, har en udlængsel eller trang til at forstå sig selv ved at rejse ud, det ligger ligesom i fotografiets natur. De sidste par år har det været det arktiske landskab, der har rykket i mig, hvilket nok har noget af gøre med de stormende kontraster, der findes her, som fx i farverne, der i hurtige tempoer forvandler sig fra grå, brun, sort til gult, grønt, turkist og hvidt. Men også formerne; fladt, snoet, sky-højt og langt ned. Det er bare en helt anden skala at arbejde med. 

Which concept of reality do you work with?

I work with a mixture of concepts of reality – from the ideas of Modernism to ideas of today. I mean what you see is/exists right in front of you. But this ‘exist’ can also be a referent to something existing somewhere else in another time and in that way it works more like a symbol.

/ Jeg arbejder med en blanding af virkelighedsbegreber – fra det modernistiske til i dag – forstået på den måde, at det man ser er/eksisterer lige foran én. Men dette ‘er’ kan på den anden side også fungere som en referent til noget der ‘er’ et andet sted, i en anden tid og på den måde fungere mere som et symbol, man aflæser. 

Ditte Knus Tønnesen, Tinderstick, photographic emulsion and varnish on MDF boards [112 x 75 x 45 cm]

Ditte Knus Tønnesen, Tinderstick, photographic emulsion and varnish on MDF boards [112 x 75 x 45 cm]

Link: www.ditteknus.com

Read an artist presentation of Ditte Knus Tønnesen here: www.nordicexchange.net

Read an interview with another artist from the exhibition ‘Inner and Outer Landscapes: Anni Leppälä here: www.nordicexchange.net

All images © Ditte Knus Tønnesen

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