Elna Sondergaard

elna-sondergaard-2
Elna Sondergaard

Introspective photography

by Elna Sondergaard (Denmark)

Morning walk in Barcelona
Almost sunrise
Almost alone
Sex on the beach turns into robbery
Sunrise


Portfolio from the Introspective Photography workshop with Michael Ackerman, June 2014.

Written review by PAULINE VERMARE,
Associate Curator, International Center of Photography

What a pleasure to meet you again, Elna!

First of all, I want to say that the overall quality of this portfolio is really good. I can sense that a voice, a personal vision arose since last time we met. I really appreciate the mélange of melancholy and wit that takes place here: I love the contrast between these series – different moods, a sudden shift that brings us from the interior to the exterior, different kinds of perception, of realities, of human follies.

The five introductory landscapes are beautiful images, really, moving, esthetically perfect, dream-like, personal – mesmerizing. I like what Elna says in her statement, about pushing herself, her boundaries, her comfort zone: it is obvious that these photographs as intimate and intuitive. I like that image 15 is slightly smaller (cropped?) like a half a note. And also that we do not know if we are breathing or suffocating : are we in or out? Close to the shield or not?

That beach scene – what a fantastic scene, staged or not? Who cares, what a great way to tell the story, and what a smart way to illustrate it, with those intertwined words. This makes for a fantastic rhythm, poetry, as well as comedic effect. A truly enjoyable narration with a beginning (the surprise), a middle (continuation), and an end (emptiness). Because the series is so good and compelling, the quality of the phootgraphs matters less. It is a little bit like Nan Goldin’s Ballad of Sexual Dependency: the esthetics of the photographs matters less than the proof that This Happened.

The last part of this series, the black and white, seemingly more introspective work, perhaps because of the grainy black and white, is very good and provoking, but more uneven in quality. The only truly weak image, though, is image number 33. I find it very random and I don’t know why it is here. Where is the pathos? There might be a reason but to me it just should not be here. Images 31 and 35 are not so strong either, perhaps a little too gimmicky for me, the close-up on the eye, too obvious, and the beach, a little too easy, it is not saying anything to me, but they are good images, good pauses in the narration (final image could have been stronger. On the other hand, I love image 32, a very good photograph, somehow reminiscent of Helmut Newton. In fact, Helmut Newton meets Anders Petersen… Very good, intriguing and disturbing and funny. I also love this dog-wolf in image 34, it is a perfect element to close this portfolio: roaming, ominous, perhaps a friend…

I can only congratulate Elna on finding your path and voice this time around. You did leave your comfort zone and found means to convey your inner self, what moves you and what is really important, and it makes for a very strong and compelling series of photographs. Perhaps the harmony within the portfolio is that thread between landscapes, human beings, animals, the flesh: nature at its best, a very enjoybale journey through wonderful photographs. The styles and colors are varied, but the voice is unique. Well done…


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