CASTLES IN THE SAND
Video and photography by Thyra Hilden
Freud once wrote that the most shocking experience for a human being was to feel that its well-known surroundings were growing alien before its very eyes.
”Das unheimliche” – the ”un-homely” – signals an existential breaking point in the relationship between the I and its surroundings. An existential feeling of suspense. Thyra Hilden’s universe is based on this acknowledgement of ”das unheimliche” as a basic, yet often repressed, premise for the human condition.
Playgrounds bathed in the red light of a night vision camera suddenly appear as crime scenes for heinous acts. Toys lying as strange sculptures dressed in ice crystals at the water’s edge. Castles of sand as grandiose monuments on an abandoned beach. Have these things just been left for the night by playful children or are they the tragic remnants of disaster ?
Watching Hilden’s photo series ”Castles in the Sand” and ”Playground” is like being invited to a caleidoscopic peep-show about a world we think that we know so well, yet which we suddenly come to doubt that we can decipher the meaning from at all. A world always about to transmute, mutate and break loose just below the surface of human reason.
Taking stands: Thyra Hilden’s photographic and video work seems very ”un-Danish” with its distinct lack of irony. It can be seen as a statement seeking to negate the common perception that irony is a sophisticated way of relating to one’s surroundings. In Hilden’s universe, irony to a far larger degree becomes nothing but a way to retract from taking firm stands and from being the subject of public criticism. Her work functions as a denial of the assumption that Danes are so quick to draw - that “pathos” necessarily rhymes with “pathetic” and that seriousness is in natural league with self-righteousness.
Also on a formal level, Hilden’s work in its technical perfection elegantly detaches itself from the grainy everyday “dogma”-realism that characterized much of the Scandinavian video and photography in the 1990s.
There is no mediating amateurism in Hilden’s universe, no studied attempt at diminishing the distance between viewer and artist with the help of a shaky video camera or unfocused polaroid photos.