Imago, an interview with Emilie Lundstrom

BEAU TORRES & EMILIE LUNDSTRØM.

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BEAU TORRES: For those who don’t know, would you define Imago?

EMILIE LUNDSTROM: Yes, for sure. My thesis title, Imago, is the last stage an insect attains during its metamorphosis. Imago is the only stage during which the insect is sexually mature and, if it is a winged species, has functional wings.
Imago is often referred to as the adult stage. My exhibition is built up as an echo of stages we traverse in life. How we change home: the knots and turbans, small planets of growth, our clothes as our skin. We go through life like cocoons.
Imago in Latin means image.

BT: Do you feel a correlation between the imago state and your upcoming graduation?

EL: Yes, definitely! My thesis exhibition also shows the growth I have taken at ICP, International Center of Photography. I feel I have become more ready for the art world. The MFA 2 year program at ICP takes you through so many stages of getting to know who you are as an artist and helps you to trust your own voice; most important of all to trust my photography. The program gives you knowledge about yourself, but also creates harmony. I feel my graduation is the last layer of threads I will wear before entering the real life as an artist. I’m excited for tonight too. In a way each beginning and end of your life is a new chapter and is Imago.

BT: Would you tell me about your relationship with the silkworms?

EL: At ICP I became interested in how time and life cycles are marked by nature. Dendroclimatology for example, which is the analysis of rings within a tree trunk. I looked for other ways patterns of nature are transcribed onto physical objects. From there I began working with alternative processes and became fascinated by the life cycle of silkworms; their journey from worm to moth, which in the process of growth, creates a cocoon, the somewhat magical object from which people creates silk fabric. Humans have subjugated silkworms for millennia to the extent that now they are unable to live in the wild. They cannot fly and without human interference they would not be able to find a mate. In a way, they are a purely aesthetic species. But as I am more interested in the cocoon as a place of change and transformation, visually and metaphorically, I began my own photographic and sculptural explorations. The final stage of a silk worm’s metamorphosis, in which it emerges from its cocoon = Imago– an apt name for my final project at ICP.

BT: Can you talk about the choice of different materials in the show?

EL: The Silk Road history made me want to work with man made silk too after I had had the silkworms creating small silk sheets for me. I went to India during our Christmas holiday to do research in Karnataka, where I met silk farmers and went to the silk research centres. I purchased silk and cocoons for my show: the small turban knots are made of this silk on which I created Cyanoptypes of traces from the cocoons, silkworm patterns and the thread. In each little knot in the exhibition room, you can’t see the inside of the silk sheet knotted up, but I have made a book, where you can see these, but you won’t know which silk sheet it belongs too. This reflects on fabric we leave behind. The word textile comes from the word text, which means we all walk around with text from our body, culture and history. The big silk fabric, hanging when you enter the show, has marks made by myself creating small cocoon planets. Inside some of them are traces from the cocoons. I imagine these as small islands or different homes. Instead of floating in water, they wave in the wind entering my thesis show. Materials have always been very important to me. I like to touch and feel things. That’s how you get the closest to a sensation. The small sketches at the entrance are silk, dipped in beeswax, it smells so very organic like from the earth within. The next pictures are a watercolour drawing and a collage. I think it’s important for an artist today to be able to walk your ideas around all materials to learn and observe that whatever you touch, it’s you.

BT: I notice the shape of the circle repeated throughout the work, can you tell me about this?

EL: First of all I would say,

it’s not a circle repeated, it’s the oval form from Latin Ovum: egg

I was born at Gentofte Hospital in Hellerup, Denmark, just north of Copenhagen, close to the narrow sea between Denmark and Sweden, known as Øresund, which in Old Norse roughly translates to gravel beach sea.
When I was 2 years old, my parents, who are both artists, decided to move to a small island in the archipelago of the Southern of Funen, called Strynø.
The highest point on the island is 32 foot above sea level and there are roughly 200 inhabitants. To grow up on such a remote island was to be and to feel connected with the earth, the ocean, and the rhythm of seasons.

In a way I feel I grew up on water in a constant movement. The oval ship shape has always been important to me, as well as circles we symbolically take in our own lives; the organic growing shape. That’s why I see the oval gesture and movement as home, as a sense of place.
Even when we moved back to Copenhagen when I was 17 and graduated from Gammel Hellerup Gymnasium in the same neighborhood where I was born, I had made an oval shape coming back after 15 years to where I was born.

I entered the Danish School of Art Photography Fatamorgana, where I had one intense and unbelievable year of artistic development, that made it clear to me that I wanted to pursue the photographic studies even further, and I did that at the Glasgow School of Art , Fine Art Photography (BA, hons, 2011).
To me the camera is one island in one whole object. To find my specific form is a gesture that I can break and be a part of at the same time; it’s not about Isolation in the cocoon. It’s about the shape shifts we all share as human beings and how this shape shift is related to small creatures. To compare human patterns is something I will keep on doing and my interest in Cyanotypes is just the beginning. I feel lucky to have a rich material with which I can move on until my next show.

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