Maren Klemp, born in 1984, is a fine art photographer living and working in Oslo, Norway. She uses her photography to raise awareness of mental health, and her images portrays her personal challenges with mental illness.
In 2003, she studied fine art photography and visual communication under professor Robert Meyer at Robert Meyer Kunsthogskole in Oslo, Norway. During her studies she developed a highly distinctive style of photography, which can be described as dark, narrative and evocative. Maren work with both color and black and white photography and is known for her dreamlike photographs, with a hint of mystery.
Her fascination with psychology has resulted in several photographic projects. As a young mother she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, and decided to photograph her own experiences with mental illness. In order to make the photographs as personal and honest as possible, she placed herself and her children in front of the camera, with the dramatic Norwegian nature as a backdrop. Maren’s work has been shown internationally in both solo- and group exhibitions and it has been published in photographic journals worldwide.
Northern Gothic is a collection of carefully staged self- portraits in addition to a portrait of Maren’s own daughter, Emily. The connection between the human mind and nature is a reoccurring theme in her work. She grew up in a small town outside Oslo and was surrounded by the harsh but hauntingly beautiful Norwegian nature. With this body of work she explores how her surroundings has affected her.
The contrast between the long, cold and dark winters and the midnight sun of the Scandinavian summer is strong. There is hardly anything in the middle. Struggling with deep depressions during the winters because of lack of light is part of her upbringing. The Norwegians call this period «mørketiden» which translates to the dark time. The winter landscape can be mesmerizing, but when everything around you is dark and you know it is several months until you will feel the sunlight touch your face again, it can feel impossible to endure the winter, especially for people suffering from mental illness.
The Scandinavian summers on the other hand are short, cold and filled with wind, rain and floods. It is located so far north that the sun never goes down during the summer months. It is always daylight and insomnia is common during this period of the year. The Scandinavian art is known for it’s melancholia. The subjects in the paintings by the famous Norwegian expressionist painter Edvard Munch are filled with desperation, anxiety and depression. What would his painting look like if he was not born and raised in Norway? How did the Norwegian nature affect him as an artist?
The color red is a common thread that binds several of the images together. It represents her bloodline, flesh and roots that interacts with the bleak nordic landscape. The lanterns in the images guides the subjects through the dark landscape. The subjects immerse themselves in their surroundings, becoming one with nature. Maren included an image of her daughter in the series in order to show how the Scandinavian nature affects different generations. Her own childhood was deeply affected by the darkness during the winter and often triggered her depression. The image of Emily talks about Maren’s fear for her daughter. Will she inherit her mother’s sensitivity to the dark months?
The images were taken in both Norway and Sweden. To create the images Maren used a tripod and a remote control, and worked exclusively with natural light. She photographed while standing in waterfalls in the summer and on frozen lakes in the winter. [Official Website]