–I really love my girlfriend, friends and my family here… and Copenhagen is so special IN THE SUMMER”. The last part of this sentence is almost yelled out by Danish photographer Christian Larsen, based in New York when not traveling the world through seasons and time zones at the latitude where peanuts come in tiny bags and safety instructions can be found in the seat pocket in front of you.
At the moment Christian is in Denmark in connection with his first solo exhibition “Journeys in a room”. 36 self-portraits selected from the hundreds of pictures he has shot of himself in various hotel rooms around the world since 2004.
– My personal style is very much about finding a detail and exploring it in a way that the detail becomes the idea. I like repetition – and the small variation there will always be even though you are – repeating, Christian says, looking out of the window into the dark and windy night.
Seeing Christians pictures neatly displayed side by side at the exhibition is almost a visualization of Plato’s theory of Forms – that there can be endless variations of a basic Idea materialized – in this case: a man in a hotel room.
What feeling do you hope to leave people with at your show?
– I want to give people a short glimpse into my world of hotel rooms, a world where the realism of the room, interior, walls and furniture clashes with the surreal state of once mind, when traveling around the world.
Fingers are trembling on the table.
– It’s not that I have a problem with hotel rooms as such, though it may look like that. The pictures have been a way for me to escape boredom. It was my way of playing and doing something creative in the very uncreative energy that these rooms often radiates.
How did it feel to see all of your pictures at the exhibition?
– It was amazing. It was such a special feeling being able to share these moments of loneliness together with other people. Actually I have stopped taking these photos of myself now. I just don’t feel that I need to do it anymore. The exhibition has been kind of a punctuation mark for me. Or at least a big fat comma in my life.
All the pictures in the exhibition look fabulous. But what is the most awful picture you have ever shot?
– Is this the part where I’m supposed to be super confident and arrogant and say that I have never shot a bad picture?? NO! …. (silence)……. I shot a really bad one of The Backstreet Boys back in high school when I was shooting for the magazine Chili…. GLOL (geeks laughing out loudly). The whole shoot was a ‘hey I just need to throw up because of this, I’ll be back in 2 sec.’ experience.
If not shooting The Backstreet Boys again, what would be your dream job?
– Oh, there are so so many!!! Every photographer has a list of 5 to 10 brands that they would sell their house, wife and kids to work for – and then do it for free.
…. (silence)…. But …. I don’t know…. (what happened to the “There are so, so many”??)…. I don’t know…. Hmm….. (all we can hear is “My body is a cage” by Arcade Fire from the speakers in the café. “Set my spirit free” he sings. Guess the answer is more like blowing in the wind)… (silence)…
Christian is a frequent flyer indeed, and is closely attached to his Ordning & Reda calendar that helps him to keep track of where and what and when. When the calendar says “home” that equals New York City.
– It’s a love affair. New York is that mysterious, inspiring lover that you can’t help to be drawn to and that you don’t know what will do in 5 minutes. When accepted in New York, everything is possible. But it takes time and it is a demanding city to live in. You can’t relax. But when you find the true joy of New York, all the lonely hours and hard work vanishes in the beauty of the city and everything it has to offer you.
Enough about feelings. How important is equipment and technique to you?
– I believe it’s important to have a technical backbone and then forget all about technique. In my opinion there are a lot of photographers committing technical suicide. Their main focus is the some flashy, rare, top of the pops, to die for camera and studio lamps that must contain a certain type of air from the mountains of Senegal… and their pictures are beautiful to look at, but often lack idea and soul.
Do you have any new projects in the making?
– I have this exhibition in the making; yet another around the world project, this time cars are involved. And then I have this idea about a kissing series…. Top secret! (makes the geeks go ”uuuuh!”)
Three words describing creativity?
– Diversity, openness and gut feeling.
Three words describing Christian: Dedicated, aware and extremely kind. Christians Kronenburger Pils is empty, the last of Eva’s coffee is cold and Line is mindlessly eating the complimentary chocolate with the classic smell of public school atlas from when Yugoslavia was still a country. We turn off the dictaphone.
– I got it! I would love do a portrait series of David Bowie!
Until then, you can see Christian’s current show at Werkstette, Monday to Friday, 10-15, running till October 29th. Be prepared to get a heavy dose of melancholy and a strong urge to travel.