Christian Houge is an award-winning Norwegian photographer who has exhibited across the world, including the US and the UK. Having had a philosophical outlook on life ever since he was a child, he wished to display the contrasts between nature and human culture. Telling the tales of four photo series from Norway, ‘Arctic Technology’, ‘Barentsburg’, ‘Shadow Within’, and ‘Darkness Burns Bright’, he led the audience through the captivating photo series of life on Svalbard, the interaction of wolves, and that of Norwegian folklore rituals from the 1600s. All interconnected, they reflect the contrasts between what lies within and without the individual. Houge chose these specific photo series with the belief that they could also relate to Chinese culture, despite being based in Norway.
Christian Houge’s large-scale photographs document places of extreme isolation that seem to exist outside of time – either decades ahead of or behind the present. The images were taken on the island of Svalbard near the North Pole. Due to its pure atmosphere and northerly position, scientists have installed extensive technical constructions for climate research and space observations. These uncanny, snowy landscapes form the series “Arctic Technology.”
By seeing how nature becomes a bigger threat to humankind as man takes more space in the world, Houge explores the relation between environment and humanity. Through this, he shows how man is dependent on nature and the environment in order to survive and prepare for the future. His two series on Svalbard particularly reflect this.
Furthermore, he explores man’s inability to control nature; represented in the untameable wolf, and in today’s climate changes. However, he shows that humankind still attempts to prepare themselves for these outside elements; by building a global seed vault, or performing pagan rituals to protect themselves from the ‘dangerous’ wolves.
Captivating the audience, Houge explained what harsh conditions he needed to endure at Svalbard in order to take his photographs, as well as the challenge of learning the wolves’ language to facilitate his interaction with the wolf packs.
These series are made from the past fourteen years and consist of his most important work throughout his career. They have been shown in museums and galleries around the world, as well as been nominated to the sustainability award Prix Pictet. Several institutions and private collectors have acquired images from these series. Images are included in many publications regarding art, climate and environment and one of the 100cmx300cm images is currently on a museum tour in the US with “Vanishing Ice” set up by Museum of Washington. The title of this exhibition, “Paradise Lost”, is a reference to the amazing poet John Milton in his famous work on how Man lost his innocence in nature.
About the exhibition
Duration: 14 December, 2014 throughout to 15 February, 2015
Venue: Redtory E7 Gallery