XL Catlin Art Guide 2016: An Interview with Albert Elm

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Since the very beginning, the established XL Catlin Art Guide showcases the most exciting emerging artists from UK, carefully selected by the founder Justin Hammond. This year’s selection was particularly interesting, so we decided to get to know better some of the showcased artists through a series of interviews, starting with the photographer Albert Elm.

Observing your photography one can feel the presence of a very strong adventure spirit, that sometimes takes you to very fucked up places. How do you usually plan your adventures?

Adventure doesn’t allays mean that I have to travel far away. Sometimes it can be adventurous enough taking the subway a few stops out of town. I have tried to plan the way I work a few times. But it hasn’t made much sense so far. It’s primarily the energy of a situation, a place, a person, that interest me. The unpredictable encounter. I try to put myself in unfamiliar situations and places. Its magical experiencing something for the first time. I think a place becomes “mysterious” or “exotic” based on one’s own ignorance and inexperience. Anywhere and anything can become almost unrecognisable when removed from the natural context.

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As a photographer what are your strategies to approach people and allow them to document their story?

I don’t have a strategy. Sometimes I take pictures of people I know. Sometimes I stop someone in the street when I happen to have a camera. Or I might concentrate on a specific area when I visit a new place. until I know some locals.

Could you narrate the most surreal experience you had as a photographer?

I can’t think of any specific event. I think everything becomes surreal when you are somewhere far away from the culture you are familiar with. I guess that is what make adventures adventurous. All the small differences. Everything that’s normal to you at home, might be weird to the culture you are visiting. Everything is relative.

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How do you manage to capture foxes on camera?

I was traveling through Siberia with a friend. Our Local contact in the University/research town Akademgorodok just south of Novosibirsk, told us that he knew a girl with red hair. I immediately thought that it sounded interesting. We visited her and took some pictures of her, the fox and her german shepherd.

You were born and grew up in Denmark, how did that influence the way you approach photography?

Im not sure if the fact that I grew in Denmark play any significant role in my photography alone. But the fact that I have moved around in Denmark a lot is probably quite crucial. I guess it helped making me the restless and rootless person I am today. Maybe one little good thing about not feeling at home anywhere. Could be that I feel a little bit at home anywhere.

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