Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, 27th September – 17th November 2013
From 27th September, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek presents HYBRID – through other eyes. Taking as a point of departure an idea of actor Morten Nielsen’s, photographer Henrik Saxgren has addressed the concept ‘identity’ – and the violent fluctuations and changes associated with gender, ethnicity and personal appearance, as may be experienced by the children and young people of today.
In the spring of 2011 the pupils of six middle school classes from the Copenhagen suburbs of Hvidovre and Tåstrup had the opportunity to observe themselves with a different ethnic identity. In “Filmbyen”, the film studios in Avedøre south of Copenhagen, Morten Nielsen arranged a workshop programme, and with the assistance of professional make-up artists and drama teachers, the 127 children in the 12 to 13 age group were given the opportunity to see themselves “through other eyes” – experience themselves with other ethnic identities. Photographer Henrik Saxgren took part in the project and was there to take pictures of the children before and after their transformations, but as the workshop programme progressed a new idea began to take shape.
As Saxgren expresses it in the catalogue:
“It was integral to the idea that each child would see him or herself with a different ethnic identity. But when I discovered how the children were able to move around freely, with the greatest naturalness, among different identities I realised that ethnic identity was not a reliable marker. Rather I should seek out my images in the interval in the make-up process, where the ethnic identity was indeterminate. Also, however – slightly at cross-purposes with the project – in the situations where gender was challenged. What I found especially interesting was the female figure gestalted by some of the boys.
But best of all was when both ethnicity and gender were indeterminate – in the same portrait!”
Is it actually possible to talk about ‘an ethnic identity’?
Henrik Saxgren has previously dealt with ethnic identity in the book War and Love – Immigration in the Nordic Countries (Gyldendal, Copenhagen 2006) but this had its point of departure in cultural anthropology and its scientific methods, and was rooted in a tradition of documentary photography. In his new exhibition Henrik Saxgren has assailed the concept “identity” with greater freedom and from a more philosophical angle.
HYBRID – through other eyes philosophises on the concept ‘identity’ as a factor subject to change while at the same time debating the notion of photography as a form of documentation.
Catalogue with text by Henrik Saxgren, Morten Nielsen and Lars-Erik Schmidt.
92 pages, 41 photographs in colour.
The exhibition is supported by Sportgoodsfonden and Danish Arts Council
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
Tuesday – Sunday 11.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.
Admission DKK 75. Sundays free.