Maren Klemp


Between Intervals © Maren Klemp

Maren Klemp started with photography when she was a teenager, living in a small town outside of Oslo, Norway. Her first camera opened her mind to a new universe. At age seventeen she quit school and started an internship as a photographer in the local newspaper. Maren learned a great deal during her time as an intern, but she soon realised that she was more interested in the field of fine art photography than in photojournalism. After about six moths at the newspaper Maren started studying fine art photography under professor Robert Meyer at Robert Meyer Kunsthøgskole in Oslo.

Since then Maren Klemp has been working on several different art related projects. In 2014 she travelled to Charleston, South Carolina to work on her first book together with photographer and professor, Jose’ Escobar. Maren and Jose felt that their pictures spoke the same language and had a similar aesthetics. This is how the idea of the book was born. The book is called Between Intervals and is a visual representation of conditions people with mental illness can experience. After finishing the book project, Maren has been shown in both solo and group exhibitions here in Oslo and in several magazines worldwide.

In her work, she investigates the depths of the human psyche, creating black-and-white self portraits to delve into what she describes as the darker sides of the human mind. Klemp was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2013 and her enigmatic work offers outward visual representations of the inner turmoil that can strike those with mental illness like her own.

Her photographs shed soft light on struggles with sorrow and isolation, rendering mystical beauty from the tragic. In some, she appears to be taking flight or tumbling blindly through the unknown; in others, she’s shrouded in shifting fog and gauze, as if obscured from everyday reality. Klemp explains that the pictures "tell about the lack of belonging, to live in a separate world that few or no others can enter or understand. It's about the fog that comes creeping, which overpowers and paralyzes, the invisible disease." 

"When I was a teenager I had a passion for writing poetry and short stories, but I also had an urge to express myself visually. I had no talent in either drawing or painting, so when my father bought me my first camera at the age of seventeen, I immediately knew that I wanted to become a photographer.

I could describe my style as fine art, dreamy, evocative and dark. I want my images to convey emotions hidden in the mind of the viewer. Emotions that people do not pay much attention to during their lives, but may recognise and acknowledge by looking at my images. My goal is to raise awareness of mental health through my work.

My current interests in photography encompasses self portraiture, black and white photography in general and the use of vintage photographic equipment. I mostly use myself and my children as models, which makes my photography honest and true. My favorite piece of equipment is the Petzval 85 mm lens, because it infuses my images with a beautiful and timeless dimension. My typical setup is low ISO, long exposure and a wide aperture. I use a ND filter so that I can use a wide aperture without overexposing the image."

"I have a strict rule when it comes to my work, and that is to never touch my camera without a concrete idea of what I want to photograph. I find inspiration in films, books, music and other artists and my images start with a thought process that may last for several weeks, then I will sketch the idea, and write notes and key words about location, light, mood and post production. When I spend that much time on planning the image I find it much easier to get the results that I want.

I mostly create in the woods around Oslo. If I am doing an indoor shoot, I work in a studio in my apartment. I have taken a lot of risks to be honest. If I have an idea for a picture that I feel strongly about, I will do anything to achieve it. I have by many occasions been out in extreme cold photographing during winter, sometimes while standing in the river or laying in snow, but since I am so focused while photographing, I hardly notice any external stresses."

"When I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder a few years ago, I decided to photograph what I felt at the time, and I have been doing it ever since. I learned that it was much easier to convey the mood emotions I wanted the pictures to have, by placing myself in front of the camera. My style is constantly developing, but I make sure that it always has my signature. I do find the theme rebirth very intriguing, and I have started to focus on it in my work. I am also fascinated with our subconscious, and I am planning a new series based on this theme. The human mind in general is a red thread in my work, and think I will even stick to this theme in various ways for a long time.

My view on contemporary photography is that it is too much focus on the shock factor rather than the aesthetics. Many talented photographers does not receive any credits for their work, when unskilled photographers rise to the top just because they photographed vomit in a heart shape or something up that alley. I feel that social media can be a great platform to both exhibit and sell your work. You can’t sit around and wait to be discovered, you have to work hard spreading your work as much as you can."

All pictures are copyright © by Maren Klemp  |  Official Website