Camilla Holmgren’s series “Don’t look now” reflects on the theme of women as erotic beings. Her photographs, taken of women through a woman’s eye, are all self portraits.

Desire and eroticism are unveiled simply and effectively in her work, creating both open and closed spaces of intimacy. We, as viewers, are invited into her intimate universe. We are met with inviting, open glances, and we are rejected by hidden faces turning their backs on us.

The photographs are built up as a film scenario, in sequences and series that tell a coherent story. Camilla Holmgren utilizes both sides of eroticism’s duplicity in her photographs; both private and public worlds unfold themselves at the same time before our eyes.

Camilla Holmgren said this about her work:

“I started photographing my younger sister from the age of eleven, because she has a very fascinating face. I did not notice until I looked back afterwards that this had become a documentary project. Her face is neither of her nor her life, as I am the one who constructed the idea of self in the work. I realized the young woman in the photographs is actually a projection of me. I became interested again in the process of photographing myself, in self-consciously staged self-portraits. The work itself had become even more documentary, capturing the rawness of nude bodies under natural lighting. For example, the blue marks gave a sign of imperfection and a sense of reality. I became interested in the convincing qualities of imperfection. These imperfections act as a resistance to glossed over reality, and induce greater contrasts and intensities.

“When pointing the camera at oneself, you expose a certain vulnerability and a lack of distance in your work. Issues of identity and subjectivity become much clearer. For me these were the issues of a woman’s own space, a woman’s view on woman. I explored this by creating a specific sense of space, which deals with an eroticized space, rather than an erotic body, a space entirely feminine. The interest in space is very much about a bodily experience (as opposed to a body object) and on articulating a relationship between the body and its surrounding space, often an erotic one.

“The body is situated somewhere between the visible and the hidden, a semi-revealed object. Your eyes are left with what cannot be seen, the face and half nude body are neither exposed nor protected. What is constructed is an ambiguity, an ambiguous space or an erotic body of space and the suppressed identity of the body itself.

“The title, Don’t look now, implies a psychological tension, an attempt to capture a psychological portrait of the body’s identity… It is in the very nature of the self portrait, in the creation of a space retreating towards oneself, which frames not only the enclosure of one’s captive self, but also the erotic absence of others.”

 — Essay by Lars Schwander,
Director of Fotografisk Center, Copenhagen, Denmark

Camilla Holmgren was one of three photographers from Denmark chosen to represent Denmark this year at the nightlong projection of photographs from 27 European countries at the Rencontres Festival in Arles. Lars Schwander served as curator for the selections from Denmark.