This is Tina Enghoff’s speak at the symposium Global Challenges 26th of August.
The symposium Global Challenges unfolds a variety of positions within photojournalism, documentary and contemporary art and is part of The International Photo Biennale 2016. Global Challenges is organised and connected to the exhibitions Bending the Frame at Fotografisk Center, Cities and Memory at Brandts and Against the Grain at Galleri Image.
I have called my 20 min talk The need of collaboration.
For me one of the important things in my projects is to use the inspiring possibility of collaborating. The input and sharing ideas, and actually realise that you can do this work in close relationships, That energy gives me a lot it takes me through ups and downs in the process of my work. Very important could be to give the participants some kind of voice but it could also be professionals who have a knowledge, professionals that you share codes of ethics with , ask them, how do they see it, what is the right thing to do here – share thoughts and ideas. for example with social works, doctors, priests, philosophers, human right activists and writers. Let them bring new sides into the projects and listen. If I am unsure in a given situation – what is right thing to do here ask the people who work hands on – how do they see it – is it ok to do so and so…. or maybe….. is there another and better way to do it.
The importance for me is also can we actually change something with an art project – or at least put some kind of focus on the subject?
I would like to read a quatation from the swedish professor and critic Stefan Jonsson :
“In times when journalism is characterized by a censoring limited standardization of shape and content, it falls upon art to inspire discussion on the future of society. When journalism becomes vanity press for the powerful, art is transformed into journalism in its original definition: a running and critical commentary … “
I have som good friends in Stockholm some of you might know them Dror Feiler og Gunilla Schöldt Feiler.- both working very activistic in their practices. You can talk a lot about what you think is important in art what matters what has an input and so on, but to actually take the consequences and start your own gallery space with the aim of art should make a difference, be activistic or at least emphasise important things happening around us… take a lot of guts.
On their webside under Tegen2 there is a little story :
In the film ” Do the right thing” by Spike Lee, the angry black customer at an Italian pizzeria exclaims at the time of putting his teeth into his (pizza)slice: ” How come there are no brothers on the wall!!? This is after noticing that there are only images of well known white artist with Italian origin hanging there: Frank Sinatra, Robert de Niro and Sylvester Stallone…… the owner of the place gets pissed and answers: You want brothers on the wall? Then you get your own place, there you can do whatever you want!
So thank you so much Kristine for immediately seeing the possibility in doing Bending the Frame at Fotografisk Center, and to you Fred for being right on when we suggested it – and to you Laura for being the curator – thanks for a great and inspiring collaboration.
For a while this is our pizzeria
I will give three examples of my work.
All made in Denmark –
Seven Years , 2010
I wanted for a long time to do a project on domestic violence. The approach was still developing until I meet Uzma Ahmed. An activist and gender consultant. Uzma had a pakistan background. We talked about focussing on domestic violence through a paragraph in the danish law – that 2010 forced women from abroad – Thailand, Lebanon, turkey, Ghana for eks to marrying an ethnic danish man or a danish man with another ethnic background to stay in a violent marriage for seven years to achieve a danish citizen ship.
Uzma and I set out to change, nothing less than the danish law.
I had my focus on the artistic practise and Uzma on the gender work.
Here it was very important that the women was anonymous in the photographs- in fear for her life.
In connection to the exhibiton at the Black Diamond debate arrangements was made, Uzma took the dissusion further and together with Danner huset – a crises center for women started a project that had focus on informing these women on their rights – what to think about when they talked to the police, how to act if you want to escape a violent husband and so on….
The rule has changed and did right after the exhibition – we would like to think – the work did matter or it was just a damn good timing…
Pictures in front of the court to put pressure on a violent husband – we are here watching it is getting out in the danish press – important …more danish ethnic men that men with another ethnic background
Søren – a friend of mine – came with some friends acting aggressive photojournalists to put pressure on the husband – to say this is not ok we know what is going on…
This project had different sides to it: Art, activism and debates…
Migrant Documents, 2013
In this project I am dealing with undocumented migrants in Copenhagen. My focus is mainly the african migrants as they are often the most vulnerable, due to the fact that they are out side the EU and often have no possibility to seek refugee status. They live in Copenhagen – very often as homeless. They are not registered – often entering the country illegally from south of Europe – where they have been living years as migrants.
In Migrant Documents I wanted to show what a fine line it is to come to Denmark as a turist or as an undocumented migrant.
The line is very thin.
A turist need a place to stay – a place to put the luggage, a place to go if you get sick. They take photographs and they visit the little mermaid:
I had an important collaboration with Louise Wolthers- ( that you are going to hear later here today) – I showed her my work in progress – she gave me important input – shared thoughts and ideas with me, and inspired me to continue my work – and wrote an important text for the book here a small except:
Both at the migration offices and airports, where the authorities let the “right”, economically attractive passengers through the system quickly and easily. But there are others in transit who are subject to suspicion, if not direct harassment. This reflects the usual divisions of neoliberal, capitalist surveillance society, where mobility has a price.
In this project I also worked close together with one of the few places that do take undocumented migrants from Africa in –I often asked them the code of ethics when I was unsure – they let me come and go – use their rooms to talk one to one to the migrants and they gave me the key so I could sit with my surveillance camera looking over the park.
I also had a close collaboration with the health clinic for refugees and undocumented migrants – calling me every time they had a blood sample.
Migrant Documents consists of 7 different series :
video, photographs, audio and postcards.
A tree cannot block the water
The idea of travelling
And our beds are cedar green
The unknown is not a memory
And in the end I would like to talk about my latest two projects. And I deliberately always call my work projects – I do it because a project for me is also the way of getting there – getting acces – helped by people I feel that I use 80% of my time of getting there and about 20% actually being there.
Hate is and Isolation
Are two projects, interwoven with each other and mirrors the time we live in, right now.
Europe is dividing the world into we and them. Solidarity is exchanged for Nationalism, questions are raised about refugees right to asylum the reason being saving the national state and the privilige of those who live within. This happens at the same time as we live in a growing globalised world. To keep the national state as an unity becomes a threat against the ”others” in Denmark. The two projects Hate is and Isolation are being linked to the growing conformity in the Danish society. Exclusion increases acts of violence, either by citizens or sanctioned by the state.
I choose the book as the preferred media in this case. The book has an important role to play when it comes to photograhy, when it comes to getting a message out.. In this case I have choosen a two small books – like a logg book – a book of information. The books showned at Bending the Frame is an artist book in 4 eks
Through the police archives I had acces to places around in Denmark where hate crimes have taken place. The photographs are taken just around the crime scene in a radius of 10 numbers to somehow anonymise the place. The hate crimes in this book are small crimes happening daily just around us – small signs of hate with a File number – small incidents that are developing in our society –antisemitisme, homophobia, anti islam and just hate. What kind of society do we want ? Do we actually know that these kind of so called ”small” incidents are happening around us ?
My thoughts go to Germany in the thirties – the small innocent hate that was spreading…..
I have worked with the police, getting access to the police files describing where in Denmark hate crimes have been committed. The file number is connected to the image taken of the crime scene together with a short text describing the crime. The text is taken directly from the police file.
Collaboration has been very important here Chief Police inspector
Jesper Høg who literately open the doors into the police – helped me to write letters so the word I choose could get me acces into the files. He challenge me and put questions and gave me the access .
Filosofer Jørgen Dehs (who you will also will have the pleasure to hear later today –) has challenged me in another way. Meeting with him, getting input and thoughts that became an important afterword to the book:
Jørgen writes in his afterword: Actions, Places, Pictures
They are places that at first glance do not appear as eligible to be isolated and preserved as an image. They are more like the places we pass without noticing, unless they are part of our life history or places we know something specific about. The latter is the case here. The most significant thing about the images is not what we see, but our awareness that something that affects and repels us has taken place precisely here. More than anything else, the anonymity of these crime scenes more than suggests that what happened here can happen anywhere, at any time. What we see is dominated by what we do not see.
Do take your time to read the texts in these two small books Hate is and Isolation even though they for now only exists as an artist book at the exhibition bending the frame.
As I said before Hate is and Isolation, is connected to each other– in my opinion Isolation leads to Hate. How do we want to treat young people in prison do we want them to be a part of our society or do we want to fill them with hate and mistrust.
I met Kamille. Kamille is a priest in the prison of Ringe. She is here today and been my totally inspiring partner in doing the isolation project. We were there several times together by my side photographing the small notes on the isolation cell doors. Small notes that indicates the small thing you can smash in a cell. Every time an inmate leaves the isolation cell a handritten status is made on a almost menial piece of papper. It is small marks – marks that does not seems of much, but The hate comes out – by kicking on the wall or trying to scratch a name, or trying to smash an unbreakable window.
Kamille writes in her afterword: NO EXIT
But there are also those who resist, in desperation. Who scream and hate and send curses through the walls. Who carve their names on the edge of the bed as if to assume some control of the situation: I am who I am! Fuck Ringe Prison! Who wrap paper around one of the two light bulbs in the cell so it catches fire. Or who just pour their coffee over the walls – calmly and methodically. Who scratch the skin of the institution that affects to feel nothing. Marks and symbols and signs of life, only partly decipherable and so badly spelt it is as if they come from a parallel universe that is trying to shout out to this world – or give it the finger.
I have been astonished by her open and wonderful approach to her job in the mist of a closed prison with 7 isolation cells. A world that was totally new to me. A place where young boys from 18 and up are put into a small cell in isolation. Most of the boys I have seen have another ethnic background than danish– isn’t it possible that it is here in the prison they get filled with hate – is it here they turn the danish society the back and turn to extreme religion, hate and action ….