June 7, 2011
Ghostly Scandinavian Portraiture
Emerging from the dark woods of Scandinavia, the photography duo Therese + Joel create haunting scenes and scenarios that only their camera can capture. In the shadows, they cast their light upon the lives of deposed kings, Manhattan high society, and aging art world figures. We’re not sure what world their photography comes from, but we’re glad we live someplace, to be honest. They like to remain somewhat mysterious, but we were able to get an interview with them and chat about their dark home country, their thoughts on portraits, and whether they’re friends or spouses or what.
I know you guys graduated from school about a year ago, what have been up to since then?
Therese: We were propositioned after graduation by a newspaper to photograph the exiled king of Egypt. At the time last summer, I was in Stockholm and Joel was in Paris so they flew us to meet him at his home.
Joel: We met at the airport that morning and took a train to where he lives. He was nice and polite. They gave a long list of etiquette of what to call him and how to act around him.
Therese: We had about two hours with him, went to our hotel, did some touch up work, and then embarked for our respective cities. Not bad for a first gig.
How about your second?
Joel: We got another freelance project to photograph the new archbishop of New York.
Therese: That eventually got us more jobs in the fashion world and high society of Manhattan.
Joel: We get to do a lot of fun things for them..
Coming from Scandinavia to New York City what would you say your origins contribute to your approach to photography?
Joel: I come from just north of Helsinki and because it’s so far to the north, we are very sensitive to the amount of light we receive, as it does not come in abundance with the exception of the summer months and I feel this influences my approach to the camera and controlling the exposure to light to be ever so precise.
Do you feel the same Therese?
Therese: In a way, yes, but as Joel mentioned, in the summer months the abundance of light opens everything up. I am speaking in general of course, but this openness gives me a certain energy that I find to be akin in the New York art world.
Joel: The absence of light also creates a sense of isolation especially in Lapland and I think that isolation translates into our work.
Therese: It does get really dark and cold, so we stay in and remove ourselves from other human beings and I think our pictures engage us with others and reconnect those divorced bonds.
So your portraits are attempts to sort of form bonds with your subjects
Therese: It is not so much a portrait of our subjects, rather, a portrait of us—that sort of sounds like psychobabble, I guess. We interact in some ways with our subjects. Recently we worked with Amanda Lear and it was a new and challenging experience when her approach was askew from ours. I believe the photograph should speak to the viewer.
Joel: That was a frame in an untold story, basically, we are storytellers and the viewer is one with the imagination to create the narrative.
Therese: Yes, in controlled sense. But we always want to keep the viewer wondering.
Okay, I gotta ask: What’s the relationship between you two? I’m not 100 percent clear on that.
Therese: We are siblings.
Joel: We are dating.
Thanks for clearing that up.