Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Camilla Figenschou

Apr 04, 2015 - Acacia Johnson

"A group of children are taken on a trip to a beach. While separated from adult supervision, they discover a stranded porpoise. It is dead. They open it up." So reads the plot summary of "To Open, To See," a short film by Norwegian artist and filmmaker Camilla Figenschou. The first time I saw it, at a film festival in Tromsø, I didn't know quite how to react. How I was supposed to react. The film hummed with the sun-struck tension I knew of northern summer nights, brimming with some undercurrent I couldn't quite put a finger on. You knew it when you saw it, and it moved into you.  Time passed, and years later, the film has grown, strengthened, and blossomed in my mind. It hasn't lessened its grip since. The images I am sharing with you today are from three of Figenschou's films - "The Beginning of No Night" (15 minutes, 2010), "To Open, To See" (15 minutes, 2012) and a feature-length film titled "Bow and Arrow", which is currently in production. The subtle intensity of the films I've seen - powerfully understated, perhaps, is a fitting description -  has had more lasting impact on me than I ever bargained for, and I think about them almost daily. Last summer I paid a visit to the set of "Bow and Arrow" in northern Norway, and to enter Figenschou's workspace was like entering another world. Arriving at the edge of a beach where filming was underway, we found ourselves speaking in hushed whispers. "Everything is happening organically," I remember someone whispering. "It's happening by itself." The air was tense with something that could only be described as magic, as the midnight sun wound its circles overhead. It is difficult to write about the films without giving them away, so I highly suggest you take the opportunity to seek them out yourself. While "To Open, To See" has recently gained significant recognition, Figenschou remains rather detached from the fast pace of the film industry, residing primarily in a small town in the Lofoten Islands (I admire this about her). While she doesn't have a website, you can nevertheless find her work if you know where to look. "To Open, To See" is available as a part of the "Norwegian Shorts 2013" on the Norwegian Film Institute's website, and "The Beginning Of No Night" is available here. Otherwise, be on the lookout for her name at film festivals in the upcoming years.