Imod Hede, sand og vind (25,5 x 20,4 cm)
Det Danske Hedeselskab (The Danish Heath Association) was initiated in 1866 by a group of visionary men who wanted to turn the Danish heath into agricultural land. Since then the association has had a great impact on the development of the Danish society as well as the Danish landscape, and today about 70% of Denmark’s land area is constituted by agricultural land. Between 1880 and 1980, Det Danske Hedeselskab created a large image archive, which contains about 13.000 images. The photographs in the archive document the changes the land has undergone, but also the people and machines that have been a part of this transformation.
When first entering the archive many of the photographs seemed odd and peculiar:
To me unknown machines used to cultivate the land looked like taken from an early science fiction film. And in photographs displaying a stick that was used to measure the height of plants and grass, it looks as if the stick has got a life of it own, wandering between the depicted places in the photographs.
These “oddities” somewhat both cohered and collided with the image of the Danish landscape and ideas about a national soul in literature from the same time period, and instead of trying to explain what the photographs were showing I made a selection of photographs to which
I wrote a poetic text. In this text I implicitly contemplate upon the complex relations between sender, receiver, content, context and the photograph’s unintended meanings. But I also let myself get seduced by the poetics of trees affected by the wind and the sublime effects of white flowers on a summer meadow, and the somewhat surreal transformation of the heath into agricultural land and how this becomes a part of the national self-understanding. In the book the text is presented in form of image captions in a small font, to make it speak more quietly and let the photographs stand in focus.
The project was my contribution to the book Handplockat – på utflykter i bildarkivet (2013)