A required course for most undergrads is Psychology 101. In that class, we explored some of the basics of the mind, of thought processes, and took personality tests in an effort to learn a bit more about our own states of mind. There is a lot of literature about psychology – its concepts are easily documented with the written word, but to photograph the different states of mind, of course, that is interpretive and not something you often see. But fine art photographer Maren Klemp wanted to further explore mental health and represent the darker sides of the human mind with visual representations specifically of mental illness to help educate people on the effects and emotions experienced by someone who is struggling.
She began the project, “Veil of Fog,” and sought to share through images, the state of mind of those gripped by darkness, isolation and sadness. The images, “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.”
Through her work, she connected with American professor and landscape photographer Jose Escobar on Flickr. They realized that their work, “spoke the same language,” and so last year, Klemp flew from her home in Oslo, Norway to Charleston, South Carolina to collaborate on images that were compiled into a book that focuses on Bipolar Disorder, titled, “Between Intervals.”
The first challenge between the collaborators was integrating Jose’s landscapes with Maren’s portraits. This highlighted the connection between nature and the human mind for Maren. Since the collaboration, nature has become more integral in Maren’s work. The next challenge was to portray the feelings associated with Bipolar Disorder. Using experiences described by mentally ill patients, such as “coming in or coming out, emerging and entering, sometimes trapped, with a feeling of isolation from others and the rest of the world,” and the description of feeling like they are “inside an organic membrane from which it is difficult to emerge,” helped Maren create images that portray the struggle of mental illness.
Many times they feel they have been marked by the grip of darkness, touched by a sense of sadness, of not belonging, of living inside a world where few can enter and understand.
Maren uses a Canon 5D Mark II, a Canon 50mm f/1.4 and a Petzval 85mm lens. Maren also is very meticulous about what she photographs. She abides by a strict rule that she not pick up her camera unless she has a clear idea of what she wants to photograph. She will take weeks planning, sketching, making notes and looking for inspiration in music, books, and movies, before grabbing her camera. She finds that this rule makes it easier to create the photograph she imagines.
CREDITS: Photographs by Maren Klemp are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.