The Secret of Reality
“The photo always holds two layers, the concrete and the emotional."
Meet photographer Krass Clement who looks back on a life with photography tracing back painful childhood experiences. Read more …
Krass Clement’s early life was divided between a cosmopolitan life with his parents in Paris and a rural life when he was in care in the Danish countryside. “Even today, I don’t like to depart. I hate every departure when something ends. I’m always a little afraid of being deserted that suddenly no one’s there when I expect that someone is there,” Clement says, recalling an episode from the boarding school when they were about to eat: “My parents were there and said they would take a walk. I quickly finished eating and left the dining hall, but their car was gone. Even today, I can feel the sorrow I felt when I didn’t get to say goodbye.” Krass Clement links this early memory with his fascination with photography: “There, I can hold on to something and have time to say goodbye.”
“A certain mystique is attached to photography, secretiveness which is really what makes photography significant. It’s not what it shows, but what it suggests that which is hidden in the layers below, its secret message, you might say.”
“Early on, I was conscious that if photography was to be interesting as artistic expression, it had to elevate itself above its immediate narrative. That was a complicated and mystical process. It still is. It’s connected to mystique and intuition. It’s difficult to explain what it is that changes a photograph from just being a picture of something to being a picture about something.” Krass Clement mentions the American photographer Diane Arbus, who “says it beautifully: A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you, the less you know.” And Clement adds: “The important thing may not be what it shows but the way it does it.”
“The photo, in a way, is connected to the loss in that it has been. Time proceeds and the picture remains. It’s both painful and unnerving, but also very beautiful.” “You may say about photos and that which interests me in my photographic narrative it’s the loss, but also the expectation. There’s an expectation, often not satisfied or fulfilled, but it’s still there and maybe experienced as both tragic and beautiful.”
“The photo always holds these two layers, the concrete and the not concrete, the emotional. It also means that you must be receptive to these elements, and so you may speak of the literary process or a literary approach: You can’t read it literally. You must involve your own experience and intuition and perception when decoding the photo, and only then does it disseminate its full message.” “You can’t say what ensouls a picture. What ensouls a work of art? What is art? It’s the ensoulment.”
Krass Clement was born in 1946 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was educated as a film director from the Danish Film School in 1973, but he established himself as a documentary still photographer. Clement spent much of his childhood in Paris, and his father, Kay Christensen, was a painter and his mother, Anna Katharina Tvermoes, was a pianist. He began to photograph in the late 1950s. Krass Clement published his first photographic work in 1978, ‘Skygger af øjeblikke’ (Shadows of Moments). While much of Clement’s work was first presented in exhibitions, by the 1990s, Krass Clement had turned to books as his preferred medium. Clement’s photographic work is part of various prominent collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Biblioteque Nationale, Paris, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen. Krass Clement lives in Copenhagen.
The works in this video are from the following books:
‘Skygger af øjeblikke’, 1978. ’Det tavse land’, 1981, ’Byen bag regnen: fotografier fra København ’, 1987. Ved døden: Anne Katharina 22.november – 23. januar 1989’, ’Hvor ingen talte: fotografier fra en park i Moskva’, 1991, ’Af en bys breve: fotografier fra Lissabon’, 1993, ’Det lånte lys: et fotografisk essay’, 1995, ’Drum: et sted i Irland’, 1996, ’Langs vinden: et fotografisk essay’, 1998, ’Ved døden: Anne-Katharina 22. november 1901-23. januar 1989’, 1989, ’Før natten’, 2000 ’Berlin notat’, 2005. ’Novemberrejse’, 2008, ’Paris: Carnet de recherche’, 2010, ’Venten på i går Auf Gestern warten’, 2012, ’Dublin’, 2017, ’Bag Saga Blok’, 2014, ’Impasse Hotel Syria’, 2016, ’Metrovia’, 2021.
Krass Clement was interviewed by Christian Lund in his home in Copenhagen, November 2021.
Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard
Edit: Johan von Bülow
Produced by Christian Lund & Johan von Bülow
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2021
Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet and C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.
Becoming Paul McCarthy
On the influential and groundbreaking contemporary American artistSeries / 3 videos