Cecilie Nicoline Rasmussens photos are unpredictable, bleach, open and curious. They take a look at the world from a new angle. The worried dog is humanized and the drinking human has become a dog. Turning real life upside down, is a way of demanding attention from the viewer, to make up their mind, what’s going on. Her photos are scary and sensual, and leaves an impression but nothing fulfilled.
How did you begin photographing?
Cecilie Nicoline Rasmussen: When I was nine my step-dad gave me a point and shoot camera, that I still use. We were going on a hot air-balloon ride. As we were rising up, I thought it was amazing how the rocks beneath us got smaller and smaller, so I kept snapping pictures of the rocks to remember that feeling of flying up high. Of course, when the film was developed, and when there’s nothing else in the photograph to compare size to; a stone just looks like a stone. There was no evidence of an upsend. It is what it is. Anyway, that’s when I figured out what perspective was. And I kept taking pictures of things that I needed to remember after that moment.
Why do you photograph?
Cecilie Nicoline Rasmussen: I moved from Denmark to Oman with my family when I was six. Being unbearably shy and not knowing the language, I started to rely on the visuals of body language and my surroundings to communicate; Instead of talking, my new friends and I would make origami boxes to house the dung beetles we would find under rocks in the mountains of our backyard. I would look at photographs of my family back home every day, trying to construct memories that I felt I was missing out on. Instead of writing a diary I would look at photographs. These 13×8 pieces of paper became a substitute identity. Through objects, and my own connotations of the memories they generate, I can relate to other people. When I photograph, the images become my unforgiving surrogate life in hopes of creating a discussion between the viewer, the work and the artist.
What is the best thing photography has done for you?
Cecilie Nicoline Rasmussen: Looking at things. Asking questions. Coming to terms with what I’m looking at. Understanding why, or why not I appreciate something. I.e. how can the chairness of a chair be contextualized in a way that creates a conversation between the viewer, the work and the maker?
When was the last time you were too scared to take a photo even if you wanted to, what happened?
Cecilie Nicoline Rasmussen: There have been moments when I’ve held back, because I don’t want my immediate subject of interest feeling like I’m coming from a place of ridicule or exploitation.
When is the last time you thought you’d never take pictures again?
Cecilie Nicoline Rasmussen: There have been some serious dry spells, but I can’t imagine ever making the active decision of not making images again.
What is the worst experience you have had photographing?
Cecilie Nicoline Rasmussen: I was sitting on a ferry with some friends minding my own business, indulging in a liver pâté sandwich. Ronja was sitting across from me playing with her camera. Later we realized that she had unintentionally captured frame-by-frame moments of me eating. Although I’m a huge advocate for the beauty of what the immediacy of the medium can provide, the result was frightening. Not because of vanity, but because in a calm, unaware moment of being a true version of myself: I looked like if Jabadahut and Chucky had a baby, and was quickly dubbed ‘The Evil Eater’. You win some you lose some.
How big a part of your life is photography right now?
Cecilie Nicoline Rasmussen: It sounds banal, but after I graduated from GSA I was completely focused on creating a home for myself. Moving around all of my life and not having had a permanent home since I was six had started to make me feel insane. During that process I lost touch with other things that are a part of me, including photography. I think about photography all of the time, it’s there all of the time, now I just have to figure out how to get back on track and ‘do’ it all of the time.
A lot of your photos are quite sensual, why do you think that is?
Cecilie Nicoline Rasmussen: Most of my recent work is an homage to pleasure, and the pleasure of looking at things. I think it comes back to me having been a shy child and not always finding it easy to connect with people, so I saw objects as having a sense of personality. I.e. The seemingly dead yucca plant suddenly looks like its dried out leaves is a sassy weave it got down at the afro-shop. Or I’d focus on parts of a human figure to create a visual intimacy, a kind of ‘twosomeness’.
Do you see the world as a dark place?
Cecilie Nicoline Rasmussen: No, but it’s raw and vital.
Interview by Lasse Dearman.