julia mejnertsen

Filtering by Category: artist residency

how to flatten a mountain

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copenhagen, denmark

the project 'how to flatten a mountain' came about during the 10-day artist residency 'how to flatten a mountain' in enniscorthy, ireland (may 2016). 11 emerging photographers were invited by cowhouse studios and photoireland to investigate the irish countryside and the blackstairs mountain.

in my world, only God (or whatever you choose to call this force) can flatten a mountain, but in today's world, no doubt, man thinks he can. thus, the pictures take a humorist view on man's attempt to control nature. i use a mix of snapshots and still life photography, incorporating razzle dazzle camouflage, a kind of camouflage known from the battle ships in the first world war. this type of camouflage is not one of integrating with the surroundings but rather one of confusion.

my part of the project took form as a book, which will be exhibited at rathfarnham castle in dublin in july during photoireland festival. 

my participation in this residency was kindly supported by the danish arts foundation (statens kunstfond).

finishing up and shipping out

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copenhagen, denmark

the last month my life has revolved around finishing the 24 copies of my book 'tell me, how do you pronounce a hyphen?' it's been a lot of work, but fun, oh so much fun, at the same time. 

well, now they are finished and i've started shipping them out to all corners of the world - tokyo, melbourne, new york, brussels, siena, london and beyond. it's pretty cool to see my babies go find a new home. i hope they will be enjoyed out there.

a couple of facts about the materials used - all of which have come directly from japan. the book is inkjet printed on OK adonis rafu, 75 gram, color white from oji paper, the silver paper comes from takeo paper and the title page has been silk screened in japan by natsuki-san. the cover is made from 2 mm thick black card board. every book is hand glued with a spine that has its book binders spine mesh exposed, so that the pages behind the mesh are visible.

24 signed and numbered copies ladies and gentlemen. i'm keeping copy 24/24 for myself, as i expect it will be valuable one day :)

copies still available at the Tipi Photobook Shop

 

 

last of the best

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back in tokyo, japan

hi y'all.

it's been a while and i apologize. what has happened since last post over a month ago? many things. let's see...

  1. i had my exhibition 'highway 202 to karatsu' at studio kura.
  2. i left studio kura after a 2 month stay. what an amazing place, which i can highly recommend to anyone who need to get away from the hustle and bustle and stress of it all. i din't know i needed it, but i did. it was so relaxed that i managed to practice my headstand everyday... let's just say, i've gotten really good at standing on my head.
  3. my first ever attempt at a photobook 'tell me, how do you pronounce a hyphen?' was shortlisted for guatephoto 2015
  4. i travelled around japan for 2 weeks doing app. 3000 kms in train and visited nagasaki, kyoto, i had the biggest artistic experience in the chichu museum in naoshima, got drunk in takamatsu, hiked the ancient pilgrimage route kumano kodo through the kii mountains, sang karaoke in tokyo and rode the train 2.5 hours to kanazawa to see an art museum, which didn't live up to expectations (then went 2.5 hours back to tokyo on the same day). oh, i also had my second oyster ever in kanazawa - it was the biggest thing i ever saw, had to eat it in 3 bites and i didn't throw it up afterwards.. 

i have a hard time getting my head around having to leave japan in less than 2 weeks.. when i came back this summer for the second time this year, i didn't really have any expectations. actually, the whole thing didn't start out too well. it was scorching hot, and i was left to my own devices most of the time, but it just kept picking up and getting better and better. and poof, i'm head over heels in love with japan again. the high points of the last 2.5 months being the music festival sunset live in keya beach in itoshima, the harvest festival in a field close to the studio kura, riding my bike through the rice fields in the sun wind in hair in itoshima, being buried in hot sand in beppu, the kumano kodo hike, where we walked from takijiri-oji and 2 days later ended up in hongu after an 8 hour hike with no place to stay and finding the most amazing small vegan minshuku (called yamamizuki), which was just absolutely perfection, and lastly the amazing naoshima (the ferry ride and the chichu art museum in particular).

some pictures to illustrate the whole thing.


a little bit about the work - highway 202 to karatsu

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itoshima, fukuoka, japan

impressions of the middle of nowhere.

i came to itoshima after having been working in tokyo on the project search for me in plain sight. i thought i would continue that work here, but with a rural spin. the people out in itoshima surely must also experience loneliness. maybe they do, but the fact is that i haven't seen it. i haven't seen the lonesome pensive moments undisturbed by nothing or no one. when i came here a month ago, it was so hot and humid that by the time it was 10 o'clock in the morning nobody was to be seen anywhere. come night time it got so dark that i guess nobody ventured outside either (unless they were in a car). hence, the setting didn't really invite a continuation of the project from tokyo, which i had originally thought it would. from my own point of view however, the loneliness, silence and melancholy was ever present.

the days went by. i didn't move outside the aircon during the day, and while still HOT at night, it had cooled down slightly. so come nighttime i went to the street. i live right next to the highway 202 that runs to karatsu - it's a fairly busy road and it's the only thing that divides me from the kilometers of rice fields that stretch out on the opposite side. in the back of my house is where the mountain and forrest begin and beyond there is the ocean. while there is not a lot of artificial light sources out here at night, besides a few street lights on the road, the cars and truck continually running through on the 202 create quite a good light source that i thought i might be able to use. also i hadn't quite found the courage to venture too far into the darkness, and thus the hunt for motives around the 202 began. the project of portraying the area around highway 202 to karatsu was born.  

since then i have taken loads of pictures, but the premise remains the same. i shoot at night time, not any longer out of necessity, as it has cooled down since then, but rather to get that uncanny, sort of lonesome feeling that i love, and that i felt when i just arrived. and still feel at times. further i have included the farmers as characters in the series. they are to me mysterious creatures, because i see them in the middle of their fields completely covered in hats, gloves and what not to avoid the sun. i never see a face, because of the big shaded hats and because they are always bent over rummaging through the dirt. to me they are anonymous creatures, but so ever present in the vast landscape, even when they are not in it physically. 


note to self

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itoshima, fukuoka, japan

just a short update on life in the country side, where this week i've been so lucky as to have my series dark ops shortlisted for the prestigious black and white limited edition book publication by gomma called MONO vol. 2 (the series dark ops is also the visual foundation of my photobook tell me, how do you pronounce a hyphen?). MONO is a trilogy of photography books with contributions by the best of the best b/w photographers along side emerging photographers. vol. 1 came out in 2013 and vol. 2 is expected later this year. alas, i was not among the winning artists, but considering i've only been out of photography school for 7 months, i feel very proud and honored to be among the shortlisted. it is a nice acknowledgement to get, when you constantly feel like you're fumbling along trying your best to do something that is true to yourself and it then also resonates with other people. it is small things like this that assures me that i was not wrong in leaving my job in marketing to pursue my dreams. 

next, this week the fall issue of the danish fashion magazine note came out. in it i am featured with a personal essay on tokyo, my best city tips, as well as five pages with some of the photography from my search for me in plain sight series, which i shot earlier this year in tokyo. you can read my essay and see the photos here (in danish only).

over and out.

 

welcome to studio kura in itoshima, japan

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itoshima, fukuoka, japan

i've landed in itoshima - 45 minutes on the local train outside of fukuoka on the island of kyushu in japan. itoshima is not an island (despite the name - shima in japanese means island), but rather a peninsula with ocean/beach on one side, mountains on the other and some rice fields in between. this is where studio kura resides. in a quaint village looking out over the rice fields with the mountains as a back drop. as pretty as can be, but it is rural folks! there's a 15 minute bike ride to the nearest shops. between my house and the rice fields runs the 202 highway to karatsu providing me with some feeling of life at night time, but otherwise it is pitch black after the sun sets at 7-ish. 

out here speakers are installed along the roads (i think actually this is the case most places in japan). in case of earthquakes, tsunamis etc. the alarm can sound so everyone can hear. but these speakers do more than sound alarms - they also play music. i wake up at 7 o'clock in the morning, when the street speakers play a tune. at 12 pm they play again another tune and at 6 pm a third. no need to keep track of the time here - just pay attention to the music coming on... i am waaaaaay down in gear! the days just come and go while i go to the beach, or go for coffee/lunch or ride around in the rice fields and mountains on my bike exploring this beautiful place. i buy local produce from the produce stand - eggs, passion fruits, tomatoes, even sausages from the local pig farm and salt from the local salt works. it's pretty great despite the unavoidable loneliness that comes from being so far away from everything and everybody. it's been unbearably warm here for the first 10 days i've been here, and there has literally been no people around, but it's cooling down a little bit now (only 29 degrees celcius today), so maybe i'll start seeing some more faces.. 

i do realize that i'm here on an artist residency, but i have not yet decided what kind of project i want to do. i've started doing some stuff already, but i want to try out some more things before settling on a project. i'm sure i'll come up with something, since i still have 1.5 months to go. i'll keep you updated.

for now, some pictures of the place i'll call home for the next few months.

 

culmination of artist residency at 3331 ARTS CHIYODA

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tokyo, japan

it's been a couple of weeks since my last post and obviously many things have happened since. time flies here, and i just cannot quite keep up.

yesterday was the opening of my photography exhibition 'search for me in plain sight' at the 3331 nishikicho studio in jinbocho. there was quite a good turn-out of people that i have gotten to know during my last 2 months in tokyo, as well as old friends, so i was very happy about that. it was fun to have them come by for a chat and a drink. i always feel very humbled, when people want to show up to support me. so thank you all very much! (if you want to read more about the exhibition straight away, you should scroll down a little.)

it is weird with this culmination of a 4 weeks residency, i feel happy and excited at what i have managed to produce, but at the same time it feels sad that it is over. on sunday the 5th, when the exhibition closes, i'll move to harajuku to stay at my friend's house for a week before heading back to denmark for a couple of weeks. after that a new chapter begins in itoshima, fukuoka at studio kura (read more about itoshima here). 

now let me tell you a little bit about the last 2 weeks. since the last post i managed to have a couple of more photo shoots, and although it almost started raining a couple of times, i never really managed to time it with a photo shoot. hence, no rain pictures. that's okay though. it's also fun, when things don't go exactly as planned and you have to think and produce on the spot (which, yes, did happen a few times).

open studio - on friday the 26th, we had an open studio night at the 3331 nishikicho studio. since the 3331 nishikicho studio is quite a new part of Arts Chiyoda, it was like a house warming party, where 3331 had invited many people to see the studio and the residency (where i'm living) on the floor above it. at the open studio night, i showed my works in progress and portfolio, as part of the event. it was a great night with many people showing up as well. afterwards we - some of the 3331 staff and the other residents - went out for dinner and drinks. great bunch of people, the other residents who included hakan topal, jying tan, gustavo giacosa, jean-maxime dufrensne & virginie laganiere and of course our 3331 contact lana tran, who is just a star! 

note magazine - while i've been doing my photography project, i have also been writing a personal essay on tokyo for the danish fashion magazine note. the essay will be printed in the august issue and along with it, i'm happy to announce, will be some of the photographs i've been doing while at the residency. more to come on this. 

Tell me, how do you pronounce a hyphen? - i'm still working on my hand made book!!! i'm producing more dummies before i leave tokyo, so that i can participate in more dummy competitions. and hopefully as i do it more and more, the dummies will improve in quality. i've found a japanese silk screen printer, who can do my title pages on the silver paper (if you remember, i've had some issues with printing on the silver mirror like paper, but hopefully it will be resolved now).  it is still a lot of fun to do things with your hands, and book making is just an absolute joy. again, i need to underline this, the options are endless, so give those 'normal' books a rest :) 

printing - since i've been editing the pictures for the current exhibition continuously since the shooting started, once i had a the majority of the picture that i wanted to exhibit, i sent them off to be printed. i copenhagen, like probably most other places, having A1 and A0 size art prints made costs quite the fortune, as does it take time to get them produced. well, yumi from reminders photography stronghold showed me a printing company in akita prefecture (zoomland - in japanese only) that will print and you'll receive to your door the following business day. naturally, you give away your possibility to color check, and if something is not okay, you'll have to start over, but the service is fast, reliable, and the quality is actually pretty genuine. moreover, it is cheap. all in all, i had 9 A1s and 2 A0s printed at the total cost of 13,000 yen (700 dkk equivalent). that is including 'to the door'-delivery people! and as i said the quality is not bad! i'm impressed anyway. 

exhibition - 'search for me in plain sight'  is my reaction to tokyo and the massive population living and working in the city. i've always been interested in the moments of quietness you have, when you think that nobody is looking at you. while you can take these pictures as a street photographer, i think it is also interesting to remake these moments in staged photography, so that is what i set out to do in tokyo during the residency.

in tokyo, the intime sphere needs to be very tight due to the population size. what i mean by that, is that standing close together side by side, face to armpit in the trains during rushhour doesn't leave a lot of personal space. hence, in tokyo there seems to be a special ability to find a mental space, where you are completely alone and do not register people around you. and in tokyo that boundary is drawn much later than any other place i've experienced. i have seen this on the trains and in the streets, when people are by themselves they do not register the world around them unless the world comes straight into their faces. it is a very interesting phenomenon to witness, and this is one of the themes i have been working with in my images. moreover, i like to work with the state of being alone, because being alone does not always equal loneliness. rather being alone can be a choice and seeing a person that looks lonely doesn't mean that s/he is. that is a subjective interpretation of the viewer. however, on the other side, in tokyo there is a serious problem with lonely people, and the exhibition 'search for me in plain sight' is also a comment to not ignore the people, who are right in front of your eyes. 

the exhibition is up from july 1st to july 5th (opening hours 2nd-3rd 11:00-17:00, 4th-5th 11:00-15:00) at 3331 nishikicho studio in jinbocho - 2nd floor.




tokyo series 'search for me in plain sight'

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tokyo, japan

a little more than one week into my residency and it is going great so far. i went location hunting last week in the middle of the night to find the best lit spots in tokyo. this week, i have my first round of shoots set up. just to recap i was anticipating several issue or potential problems i could experience with my photoshoots. however, there really has not been any so far.

  • no problem getting models - 3331 arts chiyoda sent out an open call for models on facebook and other social media, and it was answered. so many replied that they had to close it again within 10 minutes. what a wonderful surprise!
  • we've had no language problems - lana from 3331 is accompanying me on the shoots and translates for me, when needed.
  • no weather problems (yet) - i've been shooting monday and tuesday night this week, and there has been no rain. and now comes the tricky bit, because i wouldn't mind a rainy shot. so where's the bloody rain..

now i'm just hoping that the printing goes well, when the time comes. i still have a couple of shoots this week, but i think a have some good material thus far. 

on a personal note, i'm still floating on a cloud here. 

since my location scouting and shooting has been at night, i've had most days to do everyday things of course, but also just to hang out, read, drink coffee and do touristy things. i'm still in love with my new favorite coffee shop 'glitch', where they know me now, and we have a little chat, when i get my coffee. also i've taken up a habit of going to the family mart (convenience store), when i return home at dusk, before heading out to shoot later, hot and sweaty from the heat, getting a cold beer and sitting outside the store reading. it's a nice little square with green plants and cafés around, so jazz music is in the air. 

last week i went to the danish embassy to cast my vote for today's election. exciting although i'm not really a political person, the fact that danish women received the right to vote 100 years ago this year, convinced me to go. i've also been writing an article/guide to tokyo for the danish fashion magazine 'note', which i think will be featured in their august edition (if it is good enough). i'm still working on my book dummy on the side as well, so all in all time is still flying pretty fast. i really cannot believe that i go home in less than a month.

vote well now denmark, and talk soon.

p.s. please feel free to give me some feedback on my work below.

my corner coffee shop 'glitch'

my corner coffee shop 'glitch'

my new neighborhood jinbocho

my new neighborhood jinbocho

new neighborhood

new neighborhood

meiji jingu iris garden in bloom

meiji jingu iris garden in bloom

3331 ARTS CHIYODA residency start

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tokyo, japan

on monday i moved into my new digs at 3331 Arts Chiyodas Nishikicho studio, effectively starting my 4 weeks residency. i have a lot of work to do, and 4 weeks are going to fly by very quickly. i've moved into the very centre of tokyo. i'm close to the imperial palace, i'm close to tokyo station, i'm close to most things actually. a huge change from my stay out in sumida, where there was a wonderful quietness (the real japan). my room is big, almost as big as the first apartment i ever lived in in tokyo, i have aircon. AND the very best thing... wait for it.. it is literally around the corner from my favorite papershop!!! and an excellent coffee place (glitch coffee).

here is how i've planned my stay:

  1. week: research and location scouting - securing models
  2. week: shooting and attending open studio
  3. week: shooting and editing
  4. week: printing and exhibiting - my exhibition will hopefully hang from july 1st to 5th

should be a breeze right? i hope, but obviously we know, that things never go as planned. i anticipate problems with finding models (although 3331 arts chiyoda is helping out), possibly printing problems, possibly weather problems (we're anticipating rain) and possible language problems. 

i'll keep you posted on the work.