Blog 1703 Pernille Sandberg Neubau Eyewear 2

Exploring philosophy and human psychology through photography with Pernille Sandberg

This month's featured artist is Oslo based Danish photographer Pernille Sandberg.

After mov­ing from her home­town in Copen­hagen to Berlin at the age of 18, Pernille began to explore her visu­al voice through the inspir­ing peo­ple she met. Fas­ci­nat­ed by the trans­gen­der world, she com­ments on the bound­aries and sys­tems that define how humans nav­i­gate life through her photography.

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What do you hope to trans­late through your work?
Ulti­mate­ly, my goal is to inspire my audi­ence to re-eval­u­ate their lifestyle. Our lives can be lived in end­less ways and we’re the only ones who are cre­at­ing how we nav­i­gate on this piece of Earth. Pompous, you might say, but think about it – if nobody aims high, explores and inves­ti­gates them­selves and their sur­round­ings psy­chi­cal­ly and psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly through a hedo­nis­tic approach we won’t progress and get clos­er to uni­ver­sal hap­pi­ness. On this jour­ney, pain is, in my opin­ion, an inevitable ele­ment, that deserves to be visu­al­ized too. Pain is an emo­tion we’ll have to deal with and accept, and I see a lot of pain shin­ing through my work.

How did you devel­op your style? Was there a peri­od of tri­al and error before you found a medi­um that worked for you?
When I was around 16 I began study­ing fash­ion design and tai­lor­ing. I had made fash­ion draw­ings and spent all my pock­et mon­ey on mag­a­zines since I was 10- years-old. I was exces­sive­ly con­fi­dent that I would have a suc­cess­ful career as a fash­ion design­er. Quite imme­di­ate­ly though I real­ized I found it much more enter­tain­ing to pho­to­graph my own and my fel­low student’s designs once they were fin­ished and place their work in new con­texts, cre­at­ing a visu­al bridge between my own and the designer’s vision.

When did you start tak­ing pho­tog­ra­phy seri­ous­ly? Was there a defin­i­tive moment that you real­ized you could do this as a career?
At some point dur­ing my stud­ies in fash­ion design I joined my dad on a trip to Kenya and Tan­za­nia. He’s a wildlife pho­tog­ra­ph­er and I have joined him on many of his trips, but this time I tried to sell my pho­tographs when I returned to Copen­hagen. I end­ed up sell­ing all my images and I got a kick out of it. I thought, maybe this is actu­al­ly pos­si­ble”. Anoth­er turn­ing point was when I dropped out of high school because I was accept­ed to the high­ly acclaimed art school Fata­mor­gana’ in Copenhagen.

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What are you influ­enced most by at the moment?
At the moment I’m extreme­ly inter­est­ed in how we as humans can chal­lenge and trick our mind­set into new ways of per­ceiv­ing the world through phi­los­o­phy, reme­dies, art and sci­ence. What we see and expe­ri­ence is cov­ered by every­thing we’ve expe­ri­enced through our lives. This is why I love work­ing as a pho­tog­ra­ph­er, through this medi­um I can play and cre­ate illu­sions, I can trick myself and oth­ers into jour­neys of dis­cov­ery and hope­ful­ly plant a frag­ment of play­ful­ness and adven­tur­ous zest in the mind of my viewers.

Pre­vi­ous­ly you’ve stat­ed that you are inter­est­ed by the idea of being trans­gen­der. When was this top­ic some­thing you became influ­enced by?
Being trans­gen­der is, in my opin­ion, a spe­cial approach to life which I can only admire. I believe it takes a lot of per­son­al courage to under­stand our gen­der and to dis­tin­guish from the sex we were assigned at birth. Our gen­der is shaped and coloured by our sur­round­ings and under­ly­ing rules of soci­ety, but obvi­ous­ly not entire­ly. There are bio­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences between men and women we can­not avoid and this might be the core of my fas­ci­na­tion. What makes a woman and what makes a man?

Do you pre­fer to get to know your sub­jects before pho­tograph­ing them or catch them in a moment?
Every sin­gle human being is dif­fer­ent and every shoot­ing is dif­fer­ent. I enjoy pho­tograph­ing peo­ple I’ve just met as much as pho­tograph­ing my boyfriend and best friends. When I shoot some­one for the first time I explore their opin­ions and self-image through the lens, some­thing I find extreme­ly intrigu­ing. Turn­ing my cam­era towards some­body is like turn­ing the person’s own gaze towards him or her self. It reveals their inner self-aware­ness and I find it fas­ci­nat­ing to get to know peo­ple by cap­tur­ing the emo­tions cre­at­ed between us, whether it’ll be ecsta­sy or despair. When I pho­to­graph some­one I know well I still feel I explore a new side of them and that our rela­tion deepens.

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You’ve pho­tographed some very influ­en­tial peo­ple in fash­ion. What is one sto­ry or moment that you can nev­er for­get?
When I was 17 years old I con­tact­ed the Amer­i­can, Paris-based fash­ion crit­ic and founder of ASVOFF and asked her if I could inter­view her for the Dan­ish pub­li­ca­tion Dry Mag­a­zine. She answered my email in an hour and asked me to meet her in Paris in her favourite café a few days lat­er. I remem­ber I was lit­er­al­ly shak­ing while wait­ing for her in the busy café among the fash­ion­able Parisians. The moment she arrived I loos­ened up. Her deep voice, the intense eau de par­fum and her end­less sto­ries of her life in New York and Paris work­ing in the fields of design, fash­ion, film and music hit me right in the core of my body and we end­ed up chat­ting for more than three hours. She placed a lit­tle seed in me which gave me the con­fi­dence to keep on work­ing and believ­ing in what I do. Now and then I turn to this inter­view and read it to remind myself that nobody said it would be easy.

Since mov­ing to Berlin from Copen­hagen how has your style in pho­tog­ra­phy changed? Do you feel this is for the bet­ter?
My style of pho­tog­ra­phy changed dras­ti­cal­ly since I moved to Berlin. One side of it is the fact that I was sud­den­ly exposed to per­son­al­i­ties and ways of liv­ing I had no idea exist­ed before I moved out of the safe, lit­tle cage that is Copen­hagen. Anoth­er part of it is the fact that I moved there alone right after my 18th birth­day only know­ing two peo­ple in the city. It forced to me to active­ly make an effort to build a social net­work I could rely on. Bot­tom line is I would nev­er have devel­oped my per­son­al, visu­al voice in the same way with­out the move to Berlin.

Is Berlin a city where you can see your­self spend­ing a long peri­od of your life?
I recent­ly moved to Oslo, Nor­way and regard my time as a roller­coast­er cit­i­zen of Berlin to be over. Berlin is a city of joy and self-explo­ration, a city of immense cre­ativ­i­ty and inno­va­tion in arts, music, fash­ion, design and archi­tec­ture which will always be a great source of inspi­ra­tion to me. Oslo is inspir­ing in many ways too and even though it is rel­a­tive­ly clos­er men­tal­ly and lifestyle-wise to my home­town, Copen­hagen, I still find it quite exotic.

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What is your favourite spot to spend a sum­mer after­noon in Berlin?
In Schle­sis­ch­er Busch sur­round­ed by my loved ones drink­ing 2 € beers or on the rooftop of Soho House.

If you were to move to anoth­er city where would it be?
Some­where where I can ride hors­es, drink my cof­fee with bare legs in the sun every morn­ing, paint and pho­to­graph peo­ple in my mas­sive day­light-stu­dio fac­ing the sea. Mel­bourne maybe. I’ve nev­er been but I imag­ine it to be the ide­al set­ting for an urban, active and simul­ta­ne­ous­ly laid-back lifestyle.

08 Mar 2017 · neubau eyewear