Auður Ómarsdóttir is an Icelandic photographer who became fascinated with photography ever since she was a young girl. The photographer focuses on portraying her everyday life, but she is always searching for inspiring places and people along the way. In this interview, she reveals what inspires her the most about her hometown and explains why her biggest challenge so far has been to deliver a pure feeling of poetry into film.
Hey, Auður! Welcome to Lomography Magazine! What interesting projects are you working on at the moment?
Hey, Lomography Magazine! Right now my exhibition Situations in The Reykjavik Museum of Photography is ending (May 30th). There I installed a collage of my own photographs with photographs I found on undeveloped but already exposed films from all over the world. Next up I’m going to take part in a group show on the 10th of June in the Art Museum of Akureyri, Iceland. I’m showing paintings and a sculpture there. I have been doing a lot of photography projects recently and but now I’m starting to work on new sculptures and concepts for my next exhibition which still needs a space.
Your work is really versatile, and your art spans the fields of not only photography but also painting, sculpture and film. How do you manage to stay devoted and successful in each of these fields?
I need the versatility to stay devoted, I love being all over the place. I do cycles, like a sailor, sailing different ships, still all on the same sea. For me, it’s pretty much the same thing. It’s just about the different ways of reaching like sculpture could be dragnet fishing and photography line fishing. I love when I get the chance to show my mixed media work in one exhibition. It’s my passion. And film works like that as well, it’s all the boats rowing at the same time.
I understand you live and work in Reykjavik. What inspires you the most about this city?
At this moment I have to say that the inspiration is the high energy level in Icelandic society. Iceland went bankrupt in 2008 but now, almost 10 years have passed and we are building hotels on every corner, opening Costco and making TV shows about fancy design houses. I was already thankful for having been part of two different worlds, the pre- and post-internet generation. Now, living in an age defined by over-stimulating mass media, exponential information growth, and fast technology development.
But, living in Iceland is another layer to all that, the country is as bipolar as its weather. A good metaphor would be the fisherman that wins the lottery and spends all his money on cocaine and gold chains but keeps winning because he’s a lucky good-looking bastard and a bottom line workaholic Viking with Alzheimer’s. That’s Iceland. It’s so naive and cute. My hobby is to take late night drives through construction areas. I love when objects are abandoned and people see no use for them, it’s so human. I’m a hoarder and a neophile, so I relate to these objects and their former owners.
How did photography become a part of your life? Which artists influenced your photographic style and career path in general?
My dad had a photography bug when I was a kid. I had access to all of his cameras and was also shooting videos on his big VHS camera. I took a lot of self-portraits, even though I didn’t see them until way later since my dad usually gathered the films and had them developed on holidays in Spain. I think my style was formed early on as a child, which was a very instinctual way of self-discovery.
My photographs still look the same today in many ways. Later I went to art school and learned the techniques and took in all kinds of influences. Cinema has had one of the biggest influences on me. For example, films by David Lynch, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Emir Kusturica and Rainer Werner Fassbinder were life changing for me.
In 2016 you've directed a film "Femme Castratrice". Can you tell us more about this film and your story behind this project?
I directed Femme Castratrice, a film in three parts, dealing with the woman as a castrator. The project was done in collaboration with the talented actress Snæfríður Ingvarsdóttir who performed live at the Iceland Academy of the Arts with the film projected on a large backdrop.
What's your creative process like when it comes to directing films? What sparks your inspiration?
My main concern is to transform the magic of still photography into films, to maintain a certain tension that is so dominant in the still. I’m driven by the obscurities of the mundane. The hidden treasures that are omnipresent in our reality. Sometimes I let objects or words lead the way and see what discoveries arrive on the path. I go treasure hunting and listen to people, like a mixture of searching and having things come to you.
When there’s something that interests me I often feel as it brings me a base for a script or a painting. I’m constantly viewing and receiving and I think it’s a part of my process to have a huge trust in the environment. It’s also important for my process to free myself from controlling it. The moment is so important for me as well, I feel very energetic on set, almost like a medium for the weather.
Which is the hardest step in a filmmaking process?
I have to say, it’s hardest to deliver a pure feeling of poetry into film. The film can be so exposed at the same time and the process of filmmaking is so meditated and planned. The biggest task is the planning and really visualizing and making things become alive in your head before you start shooting. What makes it interesting for me is that the moment can never be fully visualized beforehand. It’s such a tricky trade and I love the challenge.
You’ve managed to build and maintain an authentic style of photography. What advice would you give to someone who has just started doing this art?
My advice would be to go inside, go back in time, why did you start taking photos? What was your art like in childhood, your environment? The best sparks in creation are the ones that you’re not aware of but are right in front of you. Everyone has a story and the most authenticity comes from being a little narcissistic I have to say. I realize again and again how my art is something that has been with me all along, and the influences start earlier than you think. The task is to trust yourself, trust the ideas, trust that you have a voice and just fucking do it.
Can we expect more interesting projects from you in the future?
If you want to see more of Auður's work check out her Website.