Sunday, 10 July 2011

Martin Petersen

Martin Petersen
Odense, Denmark

My first impression when going on your website was that your work appears to be quite consistent. What it is that interests and catches your eye most in photography?

I became interested in landscape photography a couple of years ago, and it sort of made everything fall into place. Before that I took a lot of gloomy pictures of factories at night and abandoned buildings, but that became a bit too depressing. So landscape photography is what I do, and landscape photography is what I prefer to look at, when I go to exhibitions, buy books or look at the Internet. I like to see how others interpret nature, and the interaction between manmade objects and nature. Some photographers are able to make a big open field seem claustrophobic; others can make an old house placed in the middle of nowhere seem like the most natural thing. I find all this very interesting.

And would you describe your work as conceptual art?

No. I wouldn’t even describe it as art, and I don’t describe myself as an artist, I don’t even describe myself as a photographer. I just take photos; there is no urge in me to put neither the photos nor myself up on a pedestal.

There is a certain calmness to you pictures, regardless of the imagery or setting they portray. What do you cherish most about soft colour/light transitions and compositions?

When you look at my pictures you should get the feeling that not much is happening, and hopefully start thinking that no matter how long you would look at the scenery (in real life) not much would ever happen. You use the word calmness, and I think that the word that best describes what I cherish the most about these compositions.

When you browse through other photographers' galleries, do you feel drawn to art, which is more similar to yours or rather the opposite?

At first, my answer was that I prefer work similar to what I do, but after a quick look on the bookshelf I deleted that answer. I’m quite fond of portrait photography and landscape photography, of course. But it’s photography in all its glory with all its subgenres that tricks me, as long as it is done properly.

Without even attempting to create any generalizations, do you ever have the feeling that artists based closely geographically have similar interests and employ similar motifs in their artwork?

Not really, I mean, when you photograph landscape you run the risk that others might take a photograph at the exact same spot, but no, I don’t think so.

How would you describe the art scene that you communicate with the most?

I’m not part of a collective or an artist group, and I haven’t done a lot of exhibitions. So the correct answer is the music scene. I own a small record label, I’ve been doing reviews and interviews for a lot of years, worked in a record store for ten years and (thank you for asking) even released two EPs with songs for kids. But it makes sense, when I took those gloomy pictures I would probably listen to some early eighties post punk on my iPod while doing so, today I never listen to music while photographing. But I normally listen to stuff like Midlake when I edit the photos.

Whose work do you consider to be a "landmark" within photography?

I always get inspired when I look at work done by David Goldblatt, Sune Jonnson, Per Bak Jensen and Nicolai Howalt. Their work has helped me to define the direction I want to go with my work. Most people probably know David Goldblatt, but I would like to encourage people to google the rest.  

You write that you prefer to work within short periods of time, like a couple of hours. Has it nevertheless ever tempted you to formulate a project that documents changes over a longer period of time? If so, what would you be interested in illustrating?

I would probably describe the change of something; right now they are removing a forest, field and marsh like landscape near where I live to make way for a new road being build. That could have been a cool project, but I am not all too keen on the idea that you can see the seasons, the surroundings and the light change in such a series, I prefer to keep it simple with no larger changes in the settings.  

Finally, you also write that one of your interests in about emptinesses in spaces. To ask slightly more provocatively, do entirely empty spaces even exist?

They do, but they are hard as fuck to find. Entirely empty spaces really lack characteristics.

It's not conceptual, it's probably relational. Take a look at his work!

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