Astrid Kruse Jensen

Disappearing into the Past

13 September – 20 October 2012

Martin Asbæk Gallery began collaborating with the artist Astrid Kruse Jensen earlier this year, and it is with great pleasure that we can now present the solo exhibition Disappearing into the Past. The exhibition invites the viewer on a journey through a visual memoir which balances, with poetic realism, between memory and the subconscious. 

The title of the exhibition involves an ambivalence and refers not only to the subjects, which touch cautiously on memories from a bygone time and the hidden innocence of nature enveloped in a dreaming veil. It also refers to the uncontrollability of the chemistry of old Polaroid films, which gives the photographic series a new layer of meaning. With this series Astrid Kruse Jensen has sought out brand new paths in her approach to the medium. Whereas earlier she used sophisticated photographic techniques, here she has used an old Polaroid camera – a photographic technique where, a few minutes after the shot, you have the finished photograph in your hand. With its distinctive square format and its mellow colour scale, the Polaroid photograph, before the age of the digital image, became synonymous with the registration of everyday experiences. In 2008 Polaroid discontinued production of these films, but there are still some left on the market, and some of these have now formed the basis of the works in Disappearing into the Past. 

The development process of the now obsolete films is uncontrollable, and their final expression is subject to the chemical reactions. The chemical process is explored and its irregularities are used deliberately as features of the photographs. Astrid Kruse Jensen wanted to work with the way the chemistry becomes a visible part of the subject and helps to form the final expression. In a few areas of the photographs the subject has not been captured, while in other places it is affected by the chemistry, which crystallizes into various formations. In addition, the films – depending on type, age and unknown factors such as how they have been preserved – themselves have a history that remains uncertain, and which leaves its mark on the colour shades. The colours do not reflect reality, instead they give the photographs a picturesque expression. 

An atmospheric, dreamlike light hovers over the individual subjects from nature and interiors, which are at the same time imbued with narratives that make their presence felt. There is something that is not being said, but can still be glimpsed as a tremor beneath the surface. The people in the photographs either have their backs to us, like the woman who is slowly moving into the water, or are faceless in other ways, such as the woman in the red dress who, although facing the viewer, is dissolved in strong backlight. The forest recurs in a number of pictures, in the form of towering firs, rambling scrub, crooked trees, behind which an idyllic log cabin comes into view. The house has been a recurring element in earlier series, as a metaphor for humanity – for the psyche. A space that protects us and a place where we try to be ourselves. 

Sensory experience is spatialized in the form of wooden constructions placed around the gallery. Each construction is either sinking into the floor or growing up. The temporary constructions mime the shapes of houses, but are out of scale and intervene in the consciousness of the viewer. 

Through the photographs and installation the exhibition conveys the feeling that something more is at play. Both in earlier projects and here, a strong theme is the encounter between the alien and the familiar – the real and the imaginary. In other words a poetic displacement of reality that gives the world of the imagination a way of inserting itself in reality. 

The exhibition Disappearing into the Past has earlier been shown at Brundlund Castle, Stadtmuseum Schleswig and Rønnebæksholm, and later in the year will be shown in an exhibition at BRANDTS Museet for Fotokunst in Odense. Together, the museums have created the book Disappearing into the Past, which won the prize Best Book Work in Denmark from the Book Crafts Association in 2012. The exhibition at Martin Asbæk Gallery will also show brand new works created by the artist this summer.