HEIRLOOM – center for art and archives presents a solo exhibition with photographer and experimental filmmaker Steen Møller Rasmussen. On display is a selection of Møller Rasmussen’s portraits of his contemporaries on the art scene.
With one hand, the poet Dan Turèll lifts a glass in salutation. With the other, he thrusts two fingers upwards, revealing his black-painted fingernails. He has his back to the Copenhagen café named after him. Turèll exudes confidence and the pleasure he takes in being photographed. The painter Inge Ellegaard has painted a plane in the palm of her hand and turned it outwards. She hides her face behind her arm, covering one of her eyes. The other gazes at the photographer. The plane takes off with the slant of the arm. Ellegaard betrays an obvious discomfort at having her picture taken, but she uses this feeling to the portrait’s advantage.
Steen Møller Rasmussen has taken portraits throughout the last six decades. First, as a teenager from the edge of the stage when rock musicians performed at the legendary Brøndby Pop Club. From then, his interest shifted towards the worlds of literature and art. The portraits take the shape of both experimental film and photographs of artists passing through the country, particularly from the US, but also of all Møller Rasmussen’s own colleagues and friends. Often, he brings out the camera during social events, gallery openings or visits to artist’s studios, where the unexpected happens. DET VAR NU wants to turn the lens around and create a picture of the photograph behind the many portraits.
A recurring trait of Møller Rasmussen’s work is the desire to approach the artistic process – both his own and that of the portrayed. This happens in their interaction and with plenty of room for play and spontaneity. Møller Rasmussen depicts the enchantment with the other, where representation, voyeurism and fan worship are mixed with the wish to record life and existence. This Møller Rasmussen has done in his own way and with a unique perspective that incorporates and experiments with the characteristics of photography as a medium.
Steen Møller Rasmussen’s many depictions of Copenhagen’s art scene have also become an archive of the remarkable cultural figures of the last 50-60 years, and simultaneously offer an insight into the social and cultural circumstances that defined this period. The collection particularly offers a glimpse into the environment around the generation of the 1980s and 90s. Since the portraits are not made in a studio but in all sorts of different places, no one is taken out of the larger context of which they are a part. Through the pictures, one also notices the large influence of American culture, not only in the form of the artists who travelled through Denmark, but also in the kind of art that was produced and the way the artists let themselves be depicted. They pose and model themselves after images known from mainstream culture. And then there is of course also Møller Rasmussen’s own gaze and interests that shine through.
Steen Møller Rasmussen studied film photography at the National Danish Film School from 1977-80. He has been the DOP (director of photography) on countless projects for other directors and has also directed a number of films himself. From 1980 onwards, he’s worked extensively as a documentarist and project manager on the Danish art- and film scene. Among others he is behind the films “Uncle Danny – Portrait of a Karma Cowboy” from 2002 in collaboration with author Lars Movin and “A Ship is Not an Island” (with visual artists Tal R and Jesper Fabricius) from 2005.