BUREAU of ARTS + CULTURE
BUREAU : How did PHOTOGRAPHY originally attract You as a Medium to express oneself ?
Mathilde Grafstrom : I grew up with a father who loved to photograph, and I used to read his National Geographic magazines as a teenager. The photographs fascinated me and I began to dream of traveling around the world and becoming a great photographer someday. I would also like to share my father's interest to be able to spend more time with him, so I asked him if he would teach me the art . He quickly lost patience in me, because I am a slow learner and did not understand his explanations . But it did not take the spirit from me, I taught myself the art over the years. I must admit that I wanted to impress my father by being clever enough to create images, but I never really managed to do so, in spite of my current success as a photographer. To this day, I seek his approval, even though I know it's silly, I guess, I am, in many ways, still a little girl seeking for a fathers love and approval.
BUREAU : Could you explain your most recent project and how the cancellation of your photo exhibit thrust your photo art into the international limelight ?
Mathilde Grafstrom : My current project, which I have worked on for almost three years, openly displays what natural beauty is. I photograph a woman from her truest side and thus one sees what qualities she posesses. I do not understand the deeper issues such as philosophy or that kind, so I stick to what I do best: to show women's beauty through my lens. And maybe I can show that beauty is not what is on the surface, but what you exude when you are most yourself. Since I am a simple and self taught girl from the country side in Denmark, I do not entirely understand what the recent international breakthrough means, but of course, I hope that people out there are enjoying my pictures and that one day I can make a difference in the world with my projects. I understand now what neo - puritanism means and that it is not good for society, so if my breakthrough can change this sad trend, I am very satisfied. How my art got to the international media, was through the danish TV2 who wrote about my exhibition that was not allowed by the authorities, and this was picked up by the Independent in Britain, and after that the articles exploded all over the world!
BUREAU : How long have you been taking pictures and what is it about the female form do you think is always so ' controversial, ' according to governments across the world ?
Mathilde Grafstrom : I have photographed since I was about 13 years, but the female beauty project started 2.5 years ago. What I think makes my photographs of the female bodies controversial is that they stand in contrast to the wave of neo - puritanism which is upon us today. It feels like we are living in the 1950s in many ways. The naked and innocent body obviously cannot be tolerated by many because we have become too uptight in our attitude to the body and we judge it as being something dirty and that sexuality is something dangerous that we should not talk too much about. My work is a reminder that it is not the body itself, which is impure, but people's attitudes towards it.
BUREAU : Has the most recent intent to edit your works changed the way you look at art, explain how it has effected your work ?
Mathilde Grafstrom: The censorship I've experienced has not affected me in such a sense that I photograph any different than before. I am just becoming more aware that advertising and money has become more important than art. It's incredibly sad that art is suppressed in this way and I have set myself up to fight for my right to be an artist and to show my work, and it's not only a fight for myself as an artist, but also for other artists living in Denmark and in the world. I believe that it's important that art is higher up on the priority list than money! Politicians in Denmark, due to recent censoring from the authorities, have begun to look at whether the rules should be changed, and I am delighted by that. The police must not be a moral authority, and art should only be censored on quality not on the degree of nudity, that is absurd. Naked bodies have always been a major part of the arts, and it must remain like that despite people's prudishness.
BUREAU : Could you discuss why these images are important to you as an artist and why ?
Mathilde Grafstrom : My art is important to me in the sense that it is the work that makes me happy. And it's important to me that young women's self - image is more natural. Many women suffer from today's beauty ideal and I'm happy to be able to show images to the world of what natural beauty is, and hope that they make such a big impression that they can influence society in a healthy direction. I think it is unhealthy for women to always think they are not beautiful enough. We are naturally beautiful as we are. Why make us into something false which is not beautiful and it makes us so unhappy? I love the cliché, "Love Yourself As You Are," because it is so true. But first we must look at who we have become and then find ourselves again.
BUREAU : Let our readers know how they can view, purchase and participate in your upcoming photographic projects.
Mathilde Grafstrom: My photographs can be viewed and you can also support the project by buying a picture or contact me directly to actually participate as a model or investor.