Ulla Schildt’s Beyond the Circle is an expedition through the land of ideals and representation. Her exhibition visualises how nature—after industrialisation—has been absorbed by our consumer culture and diminished to a mere facsimile. Untouched nature across the globe is quickly disappearing. The exhibition is part of Schildt’s more extensive investigation of humankind’s influence over the earth in the last century.
For the exhibition on display at Photographic Gallery Hippolyte, Ulla Schildt juxtaposes pictures from various Norwegian expeditions in combination with photography from botanical gardens, natural history museums, and zoos—all representing artificially created nature and habitats. The exhibition examines these locations as places and contexts where the visitor becomes an observer in a carefully staged environment. Furthermore, Schildt is especially interested in how the exotic has been described and communicated in the museum context throughout history. She couples old illustrations, images, and maps with her own photographs. The old archival material, such as Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole (1910–1912), Hanna Resvoll Holmsen’s travels in Svalbard (1907) and Alf Wollebæk´s journey to Galapagos (1925), cultivate feelings of distance, melancholy, and the uncanny.
In Beyond the Circle, Schildt asks: why images by white explorers in unknown territories still remain popular in our visual language? Is there another kind of imagery we can offer instead? What kinds of political implications does the concept of the exotic have? The exhibition’s core question lies in two of the works displayed in the gallery. Parisian Bird Study #I and Parisian Bird Study #II, which can be seen as metaphors for human anxiety over everything we are unable to control and helpless at regulating: climate change, population growth, war, and natural disasters. As wild and eager animals seagulls are impossible to master.
Ulla Schildt (b. 1971) is a visual artist primarily working with analogue and digital photography. In recent years her artistry has been fascinated by human’s need to gather, organise, and consequently master the world. She has studied photography at the Dublin Institute of Technology and Aalto University (TAIK). Schildt has exhibited widely in Norway and internationally, including Gothenburg, Glasgow, Copenhagen, and Dublin. She was selected to participate in the Norwegian Journal of Photography in 2017, received the Jury’s Award at the 64th Northern Norway Exhibition in 2010, and in 2008 was shortlisted for the Victor Award by Hasselblad Foundation and received the Curtin O’Donoghue Photo Award. Schildt’s works are included in numerous collections held by institutions such as University of Oslo’s Art Collection, the Office of Public Works in Ireland, and the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation in Norway.
The exhibition is kindly supported by Fritt Ord Foundation, Norwegian Fotographic Fund, and Norske Fagfotografens Fond.
Forbundet Frie Fotografer
Beyond the Circle
Photographic Gallery Hippolyte
Open: Tue-Fri 12-17, Sat-Sun 12-16
image: Ulla Schildt, Parisian Bird Study #II, 2018