Carmen Lenhof studied Photography at UE Hamburg (formerly BTK) and completed her BA degree with her project “InsideOut”. She tells us in this interview what she has experienced in her degree and how she came to the topic of her bachelor’s final project:
Defining experiences were for example project weeks. I was able to go to Finland on an aurora borealis workshop. That was a truly awesome experience! But also the “Visual Angels on Environmental Change” workshop, which took place in Finland as well, was extremely interesting. There has been a book published on that recently. However, the project week should not always be just a trip. Often photographers also attended alongside us and with whom we have realized different projects. The topics were all very exciting, but what I liked about the project weeks above all was that you get to grapple with and work on a topic intensively for a week, alone or in a team. And great projects were the results! The practical semester definitely counts as well. During it, I was able to see the theory in practice for the first time and gained an insight into the daily routine of a photographer. I learned a lot in this internship. Furthermore defining experiences for me were the preparations for the exhibitions and of course also the exhibitions themselves. I learned a lot about how to organize an exhibition and present my work the right way.
I don’t see a very clearly defined career path yet. I would like to try a few more things. In my studies there were many things that were introduced to me and I would like to explore them further, for example the area of “film”.
I know people who suffer from mental health issues in my circles. I have always asked myself what is happening with those who are affected and what they go through. That led me to the topic for my bachelor’s final project.
I had already worked on the topic of “mental health issues” in my 6th semester. It was a photographic work comprising 29 b/w images that I had created without any background information or inspiration. In my bachelor’s final project I have then concentrated on endogenous and affective psychosis and took up schizophrenia and bipolar disorder as examples. Different things inspired me to pictures: Texts by those who are affected, works by artists who were affected themselves, or music. But for the most part I’ve created them from my own imagination. On the pictures there are no mental health patients to be seen, but models. I didn’t want to give the illness a face. For me, it was much more about capturing the totality of the feeling and building a bridge of empathy for the viewers. Through the different approaches new perspectives also developed. Gradually and increasingly I have then found my own visual language.
Despite the topic that’s critical of the society, it was positively received and reflected upon. That shows me that I have found a way to communicate with people on such an important issue. That was also one of the goals of my project.
As I’ve already mentioned, the preparations for the exhibitions as well as the exhibitions themselves were defining experiences, and the bachelor’s exhibition above all. As there were a few of us, everyone had to be responsible for many tasks. And the result was worth the sleepless nights and all the effort. Overall it was a very stressful time, but also very instructive.
I certainly would like to do more photographic projects of my own. In addition, I would also like to try further different directions, and the subject area of film interests me the most.