Interview with Kari Jeppesen

Thank you Kari for giving your time to answer some questions.

I only know you through your blog, and your work intrigues me, it feels so far away from the sort of thing I do and yet I can associate with it. Your work is all self portraiture.


Perhaps first you could tell us something about yourself?

I was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1977… I am a blend of Danish, Portuguese, Spanish and German blood. So, a rich mix, I think. (smiling…) I live in the historic centre of Lisbon, in a beautiful 19th century house coveredwith blue tiles.

I studied Visual Communication Design and Visual Art Education. I did dance, and played the piano, in that time I discovered photography. All those mirrors in the dance class helped me to have a real perception of my body and face. And then memory did the rest…

I read, draw and do lace, drink tea, love antiques and the theatre.

I am part of Voz Humana (Human Voice) a Cultural Association working in the field of performance art and theatre – collaborative work with visuals, music, words.

I am a teacher in the visual arts fields – design, photography, and audiovisuals.

I build images.

When did you first start blogging your work and what were the motivations?

It was in July 2012. I was thinking it was the time to have “A Room of one´s own” in the virtual word.

Is the photograph or the context and content most important to you?

All, I think. But the content is something that is very important in my process, which is the reason I do images. But there is no body without its spirit, and no spirit without a body.

I find your images very personal; you seem to offer your inner feelings through your remarkable features and poses. How do you decide on what to take?

When I started making images, I was very interested in storyboards and characters, I used myself as a model, but I was playing someone, it was still me, but with a persona in mind. Now, I think I am more impulsive and spontaneous.  I have this ideas, feelings, impressions that I want to express.  I became more experimental, more playful.

When I was doing analogue photography, I didn´t take so many frames, I was more precise, and rational in what I was doing. I drew in my journals the places and movements of the body. Now, I let myself go more… I used to go to the darkroom (now, not so much) – there I developed the film, did the print, etc. Now I go for the computer, I almost don´t touch the composition and then only more contrast or light, not much manipulation – I see, and make my choices.

Doing a photo is sometimes a little stage set: I have the lights, do the scenography, costume, so on…

But only few things go to the blog, a selection – I try to tell my story, my point of view.


I have noted recently that you have shown much more of your body in images. The effect has been to create highly vulnerable images which conversely seem to make you in charge of the situation – very strong. They are quite beguiling. What is in your thought process when choosing to ‘expose’ yourself and your inner self to such a greater extent?

I find it natural to use my body, it is the landscape I know best, and I have watched it very closely and very curiously – and I love how it is the material of my images, paint and pencil at the same time. I feel like I can show my body or cover it depending of my intentions, and it processes the communication of those intentions.  I believe I am exposed in both ways – but when you see more skin, you have a very primal reaction to it, and I think that is universal – I feel more vulnerableand you too as a spectator. It is very interesting…

I believe in intuition, and creating has something to do with magic too – some things are mysterious to me, and I find that acceptable– art has life of its own, as you are making this kind of work about yourself… so I am inside and outside… I don´t choose to expose, I just do it, and it feels right… (smiling…)

Your images are shown with text, often words from songs. How do you choose these, are these the starting point or does the image come first?

It depends really; as I am such a massive reader, I have been accumulating in journals, poetry and thoughts that speak to me. So, sometimes everything starts with the words, and sometimes, the words returns to the images. It is like thunder, a sparkle; an encounter with life, biography or imagination. The texts are there to give clues, send you to roads….

Have you thought of doing your own writing to go alongside the images, or, creating images without any text?

I don´t think I could be a writer, I have a deep admiration for that kind of art, so I don´t believe I could do it in a good way. Scripts are a different thing, and that I would love to do more.

Yes, I believe the images still lives, without text, but I felt I like to have the words around me…

You are Danish and living in Portugal, how do those two very culturally different environments effect your work?

The references and the way to live and feel – things are a bit in conflict at this moment. So, I don´t think I know how to answer that in a very rational way…

I can see Maya Deren and Francesca Woodman in what you do. Who would you say are your main creative influences?

Oh!!… They are so many, depending on the seasons, but some still remain very strongoh, they are so many, as I never cease to read, hear or seebut let´s try some…

Like the first artist I ever saw that worked with her own body – Helena Almeida, mixing painting and photography. I think I was really very young when I saw her series “See me, feel me”I thought she had “a truth” in there… that was very intense for me. And now she is in her seventies, and did a series called “Seduce me”wonder if I can say the same… (smiling…)

The unique, Vincent van Gogh, his paintings, drawings and letters always had a very powerful effect on me. His struggle and poetry in life and art are very inspiring.

That brilliant time and place: 17th century Dutch painting. I could stare at these paintings the whole day – the details, the stories, the symbols, the gestures. The light, the incredible light – the inside spaces full of intimacy, like in Johannes Vermeer, playing with light and shadows; or the beauty of  the very detailed winter landscapes of Hendrick Avercamp… oh, I could give so many examples of beauty from this period…

Another time and place that I treasure: 19th century Danish paintings, the Skagen group.  Again the light, the magnificent and tender light – but the group, the community, the teaching and living with each other, the discoveryand together men and women as artists, that is so beautiful… like that “Double portrait of MarieTriepcke and P.S. Kroyer” to be a part of something, to have pairs…

The writers, Rainer Maria Rilke andAnaïs Nin, for teaching me to understand solitude, to beware of the inner voice and to trust in it…

And now, film, the silence of the expressionist era. Those blacks and whites, representing “life bigger that itself”, the enormous gestures, all the drama, the eyes and hands – all of that had a great impact on me.

The wonders of the filmmakers like Ingmar Berman and Alexander Sokurov… so many intense and beautiful films that will never leave me, the voices and faces…

The breathtaking work of the choreographer Pina Bauch, and the search for the human soul with the sorrows and joys, done with extreme beauty and elegance. All her pieces are really moving, and her search makes a lot of sense to me…

All of this, that is so much…

To finish off, have you any recommendations in books, music, films?

That is so difficult, so many things that I love – so, I will take one from the present, and one from the past. Yes?

I just read “Why be happy when you could be normal?”  by Jeanette Winterson and loved her raw and tender honesty about life and the hunt for her identity as a writer, as a woman – her journey is just so hard and moving. And re-reading Dorothy Parker, “The portable Dorothy Parker”, her acid humour, witty and elegance makes me smile a lot, tragic and hilarious trying to find the beat and vogue of the modern times.

I am very curious about this strange folk singer, Josephine Foster; there is something about her music, which is so different from everything, it´s quite unique. I never stop re-listening to old Cabaret songs, composers like Friedrich Hollander, Kurt Weil, Joseph Kosma, with the voices of Marlene Dietrich, Lotte Lenya, Ute Lemper, Marianne Faithful – I love the stories, the dramas, the piano on the back… makes me feel like I am being transported, it is trilling

Recently saw, loved and cried a lot on the the documentary “The Artist is present” about Mariana Abramovich and the construction of her latest exhibition at MOMA and her process in performance art. Love to re-see “The Wind” from Victor Sjoström, one of my favourite silent movies, with the wonderful Lillian Gish and the power of nature, the wind makes us feel and do many things, could change our life’s…

Thank you very much Kari, I look forward to seeing much more of your work.

12 thoughts on “Interview with Kari Jeppesen

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