Highly influenced by her background in dance and artistic upbringing, Oslo based artist Jenny Marie Hviding captures movement, femininity, and culture via photography. Her art speaks to young women and people of different ethnicities to shatter "symbolic annihilation" and spread a message of self love. We talked with Hviding about what it means to be a photographer with these goals and how her environment and studies have shaped her creativity.
A few words from Hviding...
Growing up in Norway around different ethnicities and cultures was a much appreciated fact for me personally. I saw the people around me for humans until I slowly understood as a kid that it wasn't like that for everybody; I started unveiling the world for some of its distorted ways; racism, white supremacy, misogyny and sexism to mention a few… By being raised in a strict society where class, status and money is everything, I learned a lot about hierarchy and eventually what eurocentric colonialism meant.
Therefore in my practice with photography, only naturally I became aware as well of these differences; class and stereotypes became very important topics to me. After travelling and living abroad for 8 years I tried figuring out the world more and I only came back more confused.
So during that time of travel, photography really ended up being a tool, of understanding what I saw around me, but also a direct tool that I used to underline topics in my life that I care for.
I usually photograph people around me, some are my friends, others people I know of, or friends of friends. What they all have in common is a form of discrimination, a underrepresentation, a box that someone have been tried to put them in, something that society tell you is true, that not necessarily is. I would like to highlight a different version of that perception.
Female Hercules: How has your studies in dance influenced what you capture in your photos?
Dance have been a part of my life since I was 3 years old and it used to take up all of my waking time, until I bought a camera. Then incorporated in my body and soul were movements, that somehow let me to read the person I was photographing. It gave more freedom to be playful and loose, to see the structures of third eye composition different for instance. This also influenced how I get inspired and in general the artistic process; which mostly comes from music or sound, and a feeling rather than an image that's clear in my head already that I wish to create; this comes without a doubt from my background with dance.
Female Hercules: Why is it important for you to show Diversity in your work?
Well as we all know we live in a highly controlled society, where media, tv and in general all kinds of images surround you all day, everywhere you go. Therefore I believe that what you see often becomes a part of your memory, thus part of your life experience.
There’s this body of research and a term known as ‘symbolic annihilation,’ which is the idea that if you don’t see people like you in the media you consume, you must somehow be unimportant. You may wonder, ‘Do I matter? Does society value me as a person?’
Symbolic annihilation is a form of subtle violence which leave no freedom or legitimacy of an identity or self. A society is susceptible to the media it consumes and the social norms as depicted by the media, as mentioned earlier, can be instructive to consumers as a model of behavior toward the minority group. Invisibility or negative portrayal of minorities in media denies their existence in society. The result is that familiarity and behavioral codes are not well established and interaction is characterized by differences between groups. This creates a strong form of separation and distrust between the human race and breeds injustice, fear and ignorance.
Before feminism, the majority of women artists were invisible to the public eye. They were often denied exhibitions and gallery representation based on the sole fact of their gender. Having a family let them be no part in the art world, and it was largely known, or promoted as, a boy's club. To combat and change this, Feminist artists created alternative venues and worked to change established institutions' policies to promote women artists' visibility within the market. They fought for equal rights and justice. In this fight we have won many, but there are still many more that needs to be talked about and then eventually changed.
I also believe women amongst themselves are taught not to cooperate but to be in competition; jealousy is also a huge problem that is stamped into our minds from a young age. Therefore collaborations and an experimentation within what it means to be an female creative, became a part of my process as an artist. I like photographing, supporting and being around strong women. They inspire me and keep my head up.
In the end, for me what it's all about is shattering stereotypes. We have our ways of showing how we care for something, to make that impact and mine turned out to be photography.
After traveling for eight years living between Barcelona, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Brazil, Oslo and Paris, Jenny Hviding finished her studies at Bilder Nordic School of Photography in Oslo in June of 2015. She completed her two year education at Oslo Photo Art School in June 2017 and is currently pursuing her BA in Fine Arts, at KHIO in Oslo, Norway. She also runs a non-profit gallery called K4, started November 2016. The gallery focuses on moving images and video art and is based in Oslo.
PHOTOS BY JENNY HVIDING