Træna through a pinhole

When Artist in Residence Caro Krebietke came to Træna, she gave a dull October/November new light! Read about her AIR-project and her experiences here.

Hi Caro! You were in Træna in October-November 2018 to make a project with pinhole cameras. For a German artist, how did you find out about Træna and what was your motivation for coming here?

I found out about Træna by chance. The call for artists appeared on my facebook timeline. I was immediately fascinated by the stunning photos of the Sanna mountains. Then I read about the residencies terms and expectations. I got the impression that on Træna I would probably meet an interesting and ambitious community with a lot of cultural and economic potential. Since my childhood I loved traveling to northern Scandinavia and furthermore I love to share my art and involve people. So Træna seemed a perfect location to realize a project.

How was your experience?

I came to Træna with the plan to do a project with self built pinhole cameras and I found a lot of good locations immediately. It was very simple to install a dark room, even to order more supplies from the mainland was easy and fast. The best experience for me: When I came up with any idea (for example to get access to the museum for a project with historic items) and asked for help it was always unbureaucratic and easy to organize. I am very grateful for this great support of the local administration.

Pinhole Workshop Equipment

We saw that you very soon came in contact with all the locals, both kids and grown ups – was it easy to get engagement around your project? What would you say is a key to get involvement?

I tried to offer workshops as soon as possible and since the Træna community is very well organized in communicating with each other, I could start right away. Constructing pinhole cameras from used materials such as cardboard or empty beer cans is a really basic way to approach photography. Even younger kids can understand and handle it.

As soon as the museum and the school were involved, I got many requests from people who wanted to learn how to do it.

Homebuilt pinhole camera mounted on a cliff

I think there are two keys to get involvement.

First and most important: to make interesting and understandable announcements so that people can connect with the idea of the project. Thank you Marit for your professional and efficient PR work!

Second: Be visible. I explored every corner of the island, experimented with handmade cameras (or on windy days with self built kites), talked to people and answered questions.

Camera Obscura – demonstrating how it works during a workshop in Petter Dass Chapel

What is happening with the project now, will your experiments in Træna be shown somewhere else or do you have any other plans?

In 2019 I will show some results of the Træna project in two solo exhibitions in Stuttgart, Germany. Among many other experiments with different kinds of Camera Obscura, I already published two series of images on my website:

In what way would you say your project has been relevant for Træna, for the time we living in or for Norway/Europe in general? 

The phenomenon of Camera Obscura is known and documented for more than two thousand years. But it has never lost its magical touch.

Many people came to visit me in the Peter Dass Chapel when I changed the building into a walk-in Camera Obscura. The mountains of Sanna, the sky, approaching people or vehicles appeared on a big screen opposite to the altar. A real life cinema but upside down and with a mystic and somehow sombre appearance.

Familiar surroundings suddenly changed into something totally different.

Result from one pinhole camera

To get a different view of something or someone is always an inspiring experience. It might lead to fresh ideas and change our perception of things. I only recognize that something is what it is when I look at it from another perspective. The knowledge gained from this process can then once again be used to make further progress in understanding the world.

Also I find the fact relevant that it is possible to create a familiar device like a camera with very simple materials and without any digital technology. I think this helps a lot in gaining some basic scientific knowledge. And to experience that it is possible to use it in a creative and direct way.

Result from another pinhole camera

Was it anything that was difficult, unexpected or problematic?

Unexpected was the fact, that I needed much more time to get to Træna than expected. And also to get back to Germany. This was due to delayed flights and windy weather conditions. I would not call it problematic though. If you want to travel to a remote place like Træna you have to deal with the weather conditions and also with the fact that you have to change trains, planes and ferryboats several times. 

 Did you learn anything new?

A lot:

  • To go for a walk when the wind is so strong that you cannot keep your arms next to your body.
  • To meet friendly and open minded people, who are proud of their remote little community and eager to share their way of life with foreigners.
  • To find out that you can communicate even with small kids easily in English.
  • To drink a freshly brewed espresso from El Salvador, served by a Ukrainian coffee roaster in a northern Norway coffee shop which could easily be located in a Berlin hipster area.
  • To see the sun casting a dramatic light show on the mountains of Sanna, followed by a rainbow.
  • To have Sauna with candle light and storm.
  • To have a dip in the ice cold sea and every movement in the water causes little stars of marine luminescence.
  • To go outside on a clear night with millions of stars and the northern lights above me.
  • To dare walking through the pitch dark Nato tunnel on Sanna, knowing you are the only human being on the island.
  • To see 7 eagles at a time circling around the Hikelsen mountain.

These are only some examples of a much longer list of things that I’ve learned during my stay on Træna!

What is your opinion about Artist in Residences? Why are they needed around the world? What changes do they make?

I have joined artist residencies in many countries. Each of them was a unique experience.

Traveling to a new residency I feel like an explorer of a new territory, I try to share my impressions with local people and include newly learned skills and thoughts in my art projects. Ideally an artist residency reveals itself as a mirror of society magnified through a burning glass.

In the best case scenario an artist who travels abroad can create thought provoking impulses as well as communicate aesthetic sensibilities and skills.

It’s a possibility that we see you here again next year – you applied to AIR 2019. Why is it you want to come back?

During my first stay in Træna in 2018 I started an experimental photography project with self built pinhole cameras. To come to a new place means to get acquainted with the surrounding, the nature, the light, the weather and many more things. Among the most exciting facts for me was the interest and willingness of so many people to participate in building and using pinhole cameras. Especially the collaboration with the school and the feedback from the kids was a great experience.

Maybe some people might be interested to continue this subject on a higher level, get a deeper knowledge and learn more details and techniques.

Another reason to apply again for this residency is my own work as an artist.
I was fascinated to be on Træna from the moment of my arrival and I found new and exciting aspects about these islands every single day. A second stay as artist-in-residence would allow me to get much deeper into the history, the nature and the local community. I would love to develop more Camera Obscura projects and continue my work on the challenging task to catch this special „Træna-Light“.

Last question, if you could send another person to Træna, whoever you wish. Who would it be, and why!

I recommend Carmen Scarano. She is a German/African dancer and choreographer. We worked together on several projects in Windhoek, Namibia and Stuttgart, Germany. I think she would be able to get the Træna community involved into an exciting dance project.

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