He thinks darkness is more fascinating than happiness. He creates striking pictures with loins, hair, and skin combined with subjects from the beauty of mankind. They consist of gloominess – a gloominess produced by images of people with no arms, corpses in their original shapes, or mad, blurry faces with more eyes than the regular set. If these descriptions are familiar to you, perhaps you have introduced your inner sinner to the work of photographer Asger Carlsen. It can even be argued that it can be quite hard not to stumble across his work these days as many people have embraced the provocative attitude of his photography. Fans of his work include Trentemøller, Oh Land, and the Australian band Cut Copy, not to mention the growing number of newspapers and magazines around the globe. Captivated by his oddness and his quirky, dark, and frightening images, I was eager to know more about the creative process that goes on in Asger Carlsen’s mind when he creates his striking atmosphere of gloominess.
As the clock rushed towards 6 p.m., I curled up on a couch with coffee and notes while I awaited the significant sound of Skype dialling to be replaced by a slow “Hi there”. Asger’s voice was soft and firm at the same time, and his laid-back attitude indicated that he wasn’t in a rush to get our interview over with. He has been based in New York since 2007, and while I sat in my two bedrooms apartment in downtown Copenhagen this evening, he sat in his two bedrooms apartment in Chinatown in the middle of the day. He laughed when he said: “I use most of my time in front of the computer so we don’t have to rush anything as I have been sitting here since I picked up my ice coffee at 8 a.m. at Starbucks this morning.” With this said, I quickly discovered that he is a man who worships daily routines and he usually spends this time of day doing work on his computer. I found it rather intriguing that a creative soul as his was comfortable with routines instead of living day by day with no specific order, so I had to ask him about it. He suppressed yet another laughter as he tried to cover a shrilling tone of voice, and it was obvious to the observant ear that he was smiling at his own predilection for routines. “I actually like for my everyday life not to be so complicated, and I prefer that it doesn’t change that much.” The vibration from a text message filled the room with noise, but he ignored it as he continued: “I don’t like when things changes too much – I am the kind of person who likes Mondays. To have routines is very important to me because there is no one else but you to discipline yourself to do your work. That is why I like to simplify my everyday life as much as possible so it doesn’t get too complicated for me to maintain my routines.”Simplicity is a significant feature in his life as well as in his photographs – the latter with a striking meanness and harshness to it. But what his intentions behind this harsh reality were was a secret yet to be discovered to me…
By Emma Marie Møhr Johnsen
This is an excerpt of an interview with Asger Carlsen from Dry Magazine ISSUE II.
Read the rest of the interview here: issuu.com/drymagazine/docs/dry_ii_vol5.2/112