Vilde Rolfsen Self Portrait
I have always been a feminist. The work of today’s great female photographers and artists have in fact led me to self-examination. In many ways, my womanhood is what opened the world of photography for me. Vilde Rolfsen
Vilde is a young artist from Norway whose sense of color and form has a frosted sort of confection to it, coolly delicious…And yet, her work examines issues such as gender roles, and the hierarchy of the art world. In her series of films and photographs the artist plays with the ideas of gender roles, sexuality, and the gaze.
Vilde’s way of reworking ordinary materials and found objects is full of delightful haptic precision. Through the use of an array of sugary profane materials, she makes a claim on this aesthetic, somehow not losing any ground on the forefront of prettiness and steadfastly remaining feminine and feminist, asking her viewers to discard any idea that any one of these characteristics or tendencies might rule out the other.
Vilde is from a family of creative people –typesetters, designers wood carvers and etc., and at the very young age of ten, she found herself painting in acrylic and oils. The artist grew up in a remote forested region – Bærum Tanum, Norway. Her first photographic project included a series of photos of her sister, taking her cue from the work of Sally Mann.
I made a vow when I started my photography degree to only write and talk about women. This is because men take up so much undeserved space in art and design history, and there are so many misunderstood great female photographers, designers and artists who are just not mentioned.
A biting commentary on the narrative, and consumption of the feminine in art and commerce, Vilde’s Self Portraits use artificial materials with seemingly unrelated motifs, e.g. very classical veiled portraiture in the tradition of the Madonna with disposable materials, e.g. plastics. The artist explains that the series is partly inspired by Pierre et Gilles and intend to explore this notion of women as disposable objects.
Vilde also makes films and they are both mesmerizing and disturbing. She has a habit of luring in with lots of foggy loveliness and Nordic queenliness and that rather quickly dispatches her viewers.
Angelic Pink and Angelic Blue are two sister films made with a Phantom camera. Pink is a self-portrait where the female actor is in control of the gaze. Conversely she had the Blue piece made by a male friend – in a desire to parse out the difference of looking, and to ask her viewers if perhaps, there was in fact a significant sense of sexuality, power and play.
RB: What is your working technique? Materials, programs, props, process, and cameras?
VR: As I am not a commercial photographer, I mostly work alone, and in general I am not particularly technical. It suits me perfectly in fact to work solo in the studio, figuring out stuff without people talking over me or have other opinions. The materials are often things I find lying around, such as textured fabric. I try to Photoshop and edit my photos as little as possible, but when photographing in the studio the images often need some work, so I so small adjustments in Camera Raw and Photoshop. I have used Canon eos D60 and I used the Phone One for a Plastic Bag Landscape Project once. For my diary snap shots, I use my Konica big Mini. For all the self-portraits, I either put the camera on self-timer or I use a clicker.
Spor, a collaboration with Designer Ragna Hatland, 2016
RB: Tell us a bit about the Spor series featuring Ragna Hatland’s designs Spor, the photos were taken in cave?
VR: The cave is located right outside Oslo, about 1 hour drive or 20 mins on the ferry. You have to walk for about 30 minutes in the woods along the sea so it was a project just getting there with all the dresses and equipment. I think I really liked the idea of a cave because Ragna’s designs are rather mystical. The lighting however was quite difficult, but when shot right, absolutely beautiful. I think when shooting in a location like that you are given so many things for free, if you are able to see them. Like different backdrops, colours, lighting and different heights. In the last picture of the two women they are actually helping each other climb up a rock. These are things you won’t get in a studio without a lot of work. As well, when you’re outside, you can use natural sunlight and shadows, and shoot at unexpected angles, catching a moment.
RB: The paper studies have a haptic appeal, becoming in some ways like an abstract painting, please tell me more about this series.
VR: Yes. The whole idea was to make a 3d print. During the mounting process (in a frame) the idea was for it to look like ripped up paper stuck to the frame. The material is found color paper. Initially thought I would use the paper as backdrops, but the papers were colored with a very stiff brush and so there were too many brushstrokes to edit away. However, this gave me the idea of mounting them on top of each other and photographing them from above, intending on making them look like paintings. I really like to think of the camera as just another tool to make art not necessary to document things.
RB: You use contrasting materials and splendid colours in the domestic series, how did this work come about –and what is the thematic behind this way of working?
VR: This series is a result of experimenting in the studio. I rarely plan any projects very closely, but they tend to appear when working on something else. When I work in the studio, I have this large box of stuff that I have found. The constructing and deconstructing begins. Ans so this project is a result of portraying things I have found in my kitchen and at the same should be seen as response to the way in which women are portrayed.