Purdy Hicks is pleased to present the work of Danish artist Joakim Eskildsen. The exhibition will bring to light a selection of photographs from the series Nordic Signs and The Roma Journeys. Both series explore cultural identities within urban and rural areas, landscapes, and portraiture.
Nordic Signs,(1989-1994) is a poetic reflection on the inherent qualities of lands ruled by the elements. Eskildsen travelled throughout Norway, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, hoping to put forward nature’s strength and the relationship it builds with those who inhabit it. A mystic and ethereal atmosphere transpires from these contemplative images of painterly quality. The identity they draw on is of a land dreamt out of nostalgia, a land of pure light and infinite freedom.
“I think that I managed to capture here the meaning of the Nordic Signs, something that is at the same time wild yet liveable, and profoundly shaped by the climate, the wind, and destiny.” Joakim Eskildsen writes. This series of photographs is the artist’s first long term project and marks the beginning of his collaboration with the Swedish poet Cia Rinne, who later became his wife.
The Roma Journeys (2000-06) is another work sprung from this collaboration. Joakim Eskildsen and Cia Rinne travelled across Hungary, India, Greece, Romania, France, Russia and Finland to witness the daily lives of Roma Gypsies. The photographs reflect on a journalistic approach: taking the form of a travel diary, the viewer follows the footstep of its explorer, gaining a close and intimate insight into a world that is rarely seen, yet too often discriminated. The moment of encounter makes the photographs, emphasising the presence of each individual so strongly within every portrait taken.
"We have frequently been asked what had triggered our interest in the Roma, but we were unable to provide a definitive, let alone exhaustive answer. What is certain is that once we hard started we were unable to simply stop continuing with the project. The more we found out about the Roma and got to know them, the more our interest in and liking for them grew.", Eskildsen explains.
The series is an important document and exploration of a unique group of people as they live their lives in the midst of seven distinctly different cultures. In keeping with the different countries travelled, the photographic body of work is divided into seven series, the sequence of which resonates with the chronology of the duo's journeys. The project culminated in the award-winning book The Roma Journeys, published by Steidl in 2007.
Joakim Eskildsen (1971, Copenhagen) began taking photographs from a young age, finding that he had a fascination with certain light conditions. He trained as an apprentice with Rigmor Mydskov, the Royal photographer to the Danish Court, before moving to Finland to study photographic book making at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki, graduating in 1998 with an MA in photography. Eskildsen’s work has evolved around his many photographic journeys. His early work focuses on his travels around Scandinavia, Portugal, Europe, India and Africa. In 2011, he was commissioned by TIME Magazine to travel to America to document the country's growing crisis of poverty, which resulted in his project American Realities. Often collaborating with Cia Rinne, Eskildsen’s later publications reflect his more recent journeys, including The Roma Journeys and American Realities, both published with Steidl. His works have been exhibited in numerous international venues and festivals including solo exhibitions at The National Museum of Photography (Copenhagen, 2015/16), FO.KU.S-Foto Kunst Stadtforum (Innsbruck, 2016), Strandverket (Marstrand, 2016), and Fotomuseum Winterthur (Winthertur, 2009), as well as group exhibitions at The National Museum of Iceland (Reykjavík, 2016), Scandinavia House (New York, 2013 & 2014), Kiasma (Helsinki, 2013), and Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg (2009).