Arriving at Cob Gallery for his debut exhibition, Danish photographer Casper Sejersen presents an intimate and deeply personal study of childhood memories.
One, Two, Three, Four moves to the beat of a drum, not just thematically – Sejersen, himself a drummer, was introduced to the instrument by his father as a boy – but literally, with a recording of drum beats that is audible throughout the exhibition space. At the entrance, visitors are greeted by nine images of drum skins, closely magnified and pock-marked with signs of use, they take on the quality of abstract paintings. Inside, more skins, this time of the human variety, and like the drum skins upstairs all exhibiting signs of wear. Split lips, grazed knees, bruised hands, all suggest an unspoken violence that becomes interchangeable with the boom of a mallet on a bass drum that echoes throughout.
In stark contrast are Sejersen’s still lifes, carefully arranged and symbolic of early interactions with his mother and grandmother. Pearls, cigarettes and roses sit atop ash covered foam, a juxtaposition of textures and forms that runs throughout the exhibition. Below we talk to Sejersen about connecting sound to image and how revisiting memories of his childhood has changed their aura.
Finn Blythe: The exhibition is partially informed by family and childhood memory, is this the first time you’ve been able to address these issues in your photography?
Casper Sejersen: In general my photography is inspired by personal feelings, memories and moods. I always try to create an aesthetic based on things around me and from within my personal world. Of course, you have to turn the volume up or down from project to project.
“I have always seen life as a beat.”
FB: Has the process of revisiting and visualising these themes given you a new understanding or perspective on either?
CS: Doing these pieces have taught me to embrace and love events from my early years, which I until now struggled with. I feel like working on this project has morphed me into a 2.0 version of myself.
“…you have to turn the volume up or down from project to project.”
FB: Your exhibition has an audio component as well as a visual one. How does the beat of a drum deepen our understanding of your work?
CS: The beat of a drum should be perceived in two different but related ways in this exhibition. There is the very one-to-one fascination of a beat, about the physicality of playing drums. But there is also a spiritual aspect to the beat. A drumbeat can control, it can be aggressive, mathematic and playful. I have always seen life as a beat.
FB: To what extent do you associate image with sound? Do specific photographs carry specific sounds?
CS: When I look at a picture or a painting, I always hear a sound for the piece. I like to create my own stories, and the sound is an extra layer to do that. In my mind, sound is very visual.
FB: How much is your composition influenced by painting and artistic theory? Were there any specific references you used for this exhibition?
CS: There are artists that are close to my heart and genres that I like more than others. I am a sucker for Renaissance paintings and Richard Avedon, to name a few, but I always try to keep myself away from being too heavily influenced, especially by photography and other photographers. I have a deep fear of being too influenced and copying without knowing it. Maybe that’s why I am strongly inspired by sounds. I also take inspiration from textures, daily life moments, the story of a scratch on your body, very non-photogenic things; I try to isolate those details and I remove them away from their normal environment.
One, Two, Three, Four is on at Cob Gallery from 11 May to 15 June 2019.