In this months photographer Interview we have a Norwegian photographer Io Sivertsen, who has been shooting eggs for the past year now. What started as an exploration turned into a self-published book and opportunities like an exhibition in CPH Photo Festival. But Io, who graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in the Hague, only recently realised how important her intuitive way of working is for the process of her practice.
1. How did your photography journey begin?
I got a camera for my birthday. It was a small analogue point-and-shoot. Completely automatic. Flash, focus, aperture. I still have those first images, I made several photo albums, with photographs of me and my friends and my dog. I wanted to document everything we did.
But I didn’t really understand that I was interested in photography before I was a bit older. I guess I just played with it for a long time. Used it for different mediums. Like I used to do a lot of screen-printing. And I took portraits of my friends for then to use it for the screen-printing. I also worked quite a bit with collages and animation. I was very inspired by the photography collages by David Hockney.
2. Describe your work.
It’s always the hardest part. I think my work sometimes confuse people. I usually like to use many different types of media and I mix black and white and colour. Recently I was told that I don’t have any respect for the traditional way of doing things.
Right now I am studying documentary filmmaking as well as working as a photographer. I think my documentary background (I also studied documentary photography) makes me approach what we call reality in a certain way. You get so familiar with the troubled legacy of documentary photography that you strive to change it. Be truthful, yet respectful.
Meet real people, but be considerate about your gaze. In my work “Neither a Beginning Nor an end. Or to examine an egg” I am juxtaposing a personal story with interpretive images of women, snakes and broken eggs. The questions I raise regarding societies relationship to female fertility is never answered, but that is maybe not really the goal either. It’s a feeling, or sensation.
Anyway, I think that my work stems from a place of desire, a search for absurdity and humour. I don’t necessarily want the image to be beautiful, but surprise you somehow.
3. Tell us a bit more about your photography process?
I varies quite a bit from project to project. I carry a notebook, and I sometimes start by sketching some of the images I want to make.
I have recently started collecting fruit or vegetables that I place in a window or on a shelf. I like to look at it and see how the shape changes according to the light or how time pursues its rotting process. Sometimes I choose to photograph it, and sometimes not. But I feel it helps to have things that I want to photograph close by.
I also like to photograph my friends a lot. To walk around, look at the light, look at places in my surroundings and then photograph there.
If I am working on a concrete project or a commission. I like to do quite a bit of research. Read books, watch movies, talk to people.
4. You’ve studied photography – what kind of impact did it have on your photography ?
It meant a lot to start studying photography! I really enjoyed being able to focus so singularly on one thing. And to meet so many other people that had the same interests as me. We had workshops where I met some amazing artists and technicians that encouraged me to expand how to think about photography. I was introduced to how to make installations and how to place an image in a room. That every decision matters.
5. You’ve published a book recently; can you tell us more about the process of making it and what it became to be about?
Eggsistence. Its self-published, and my Bachelor thesis. It is a collection of short stories and my research regarding the egg. It was actually the beginning of the photo series; Neither a beginning nor an end. Or to examine an egg. I started writing, and then I felt intrigued to photograph the egg as well. It was an incredibly fun book to make. There was so much information to find about the egg, and so many photographs. I still feel I want to continue both the research and the photo series.
5. Where do you see yourself heading in the future ?
It is a scary question!! Future? What future, we will see what they say in Glasgow in a few weeks. But hopefully working with photography and film. Maybe even start a communal photography gallery/space that everyone has access too. I have also talked to my roommates about making an art residency in our apartment! But I am not entirely sure how to organise that yet 🙂
6. Who are the artists / photographers that you find inspiring ?
SO many! I mainly use instagram. Sadly. Here I find single images that I like, or I will focus on just a vibe or light that I can be triggered by. I like the painter Vanessa Baird. I also really like Marton Perlaki, But it always feels so weird to namedrop artists or photographers, I usually get inspired by just walking outside, or reading or watching films.
7. What advice would you give to someone wanting to start photography?
Make sequences, at least that is what I like a lot. And it also makes me less critical of a single images. Play with the photographs as a puzzle. Put them next to each other and maybe you already have a series. Photograph everything three times or more. Use more than one camera. Get a printer. I need one. Get a printer with a scanner. Re-scan your images. And then photograph the image.
Ask someone to take a photo of you. Talk to the person while you are photographing them. Or just do whatever you feel like.
Io Sivertsen (b. 1994, Norway) is a photographer and filmmaker. In her work, she explores the boundary between truth and fiction. Using reality as a starting point, her image-making anchors the subject matter in her own personal perspective. Depicted themes include climate change, internet culture and sexuality.
After graduating from The Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, she is now attending the Masters programme at the Norwegian Film Academy in Oslo. In 2020, she attended the Canon Student Development Programme at Visa Pour l’Image. Her work has among others been shown at Eye Film Museum and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, San Mei Gallery in London, Copenhagen Photo Festival, Grimstad short-film festival and Fotografienshus in Oslo.
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