Being Human

They say that rising temperatures
are the main reason for the increasing amount of wildfires
it makes sense

more heat equals drought, equals risk of fires

then you research and find
that up to 95 procent of the wildfires
stems from human interference

controlled fires breaking free from their boundaries
machinery sending sparks out like miniture fireworks on twigs and dead leafs

wicked deeds that grow from dark minds
architectures interfering with wildlife.

I once witnessed the birth of a wildfire

one minute I was there
at ground zero
not far from houses of legends
trying to hide from the masses

a dry landscape filled with warning signs
don’t smoke, don’t use matches, no fire allowed

there are always some who won’t conform

uncomprehending eyes looking at a mouth inhaling dry tobacco
the glowing tip drizzling to the ground as a wounded soldier after a fight.

I cannot say what caused the fire
we drove away from the stupidity before anything happened

15 minutes later, from a safe distance
smoke was rising

then fire
racing down the hill sides like a wild beast

one helicopter
then two
then three

orange gray smoke covered all blue
it felt like a doomsday movie
the Hollywood sign disappearing in the fog

fences and cameras won’t protect the legends from these yellow tongues.



This experience happened back in 2016. I was 33 at the time. It has been an eyeopener for me, but it wasn’t the first episode of human interferences that made an impression. First time I really payed attention to the side effects of human behavior was on a bike trip to Sardegna in 2012. A slow pace. Heat distortions everywhere we turned our eyes and every 100 metres our bodies needed a break just to drink water. I started noticing the ground. Dead animals hit by passing traffic was popping up ever so often. At first I was fascinated. A bizarre way of watching rare species up close that I’d never encountered before. Birds, mammals, snakes and turtles. I started photographing them. Almost as an investigation. Sadly also a bit like a morbid safari. But the more I saw, the sadder these encounters felt. These were animals trying to navigate in and around our strange creations in their habitat.

I lost the photographs but the memories stayed in my mind and when I got the opportunity to make a photobook in 2019, I decided to revisit this experience. This time focusing on local roadkill. It turned out to be mentally harder than anticipated as I got extremely close to the specific animal. Especially because my approach was not just to document the animals on the spot and move on to the next one. Carefully they got lifted from the road and placed on a piece of paper, to be portrayed. Afterwards I laid them somewhere safe, away from the road to give them peace, and saw that they’d left a mark on the papers I used. A proof that they’d been here. This was a powerful and poetic sign of them existing, so I began to photograph the marks as well. I became their voice and my job was to tell their story, not just portraying a dead animal. Even though this experience was mentally hard, I’m glad I had it, as it has pushed me towards a more conscious way of looking at the world. This is why I want to share these experiences with other people and I constantly think of HOW I can tell these stories in a way that is inviting and interesting, so people can take it in, instead of just pushing It aside as we are already drowning in pictures of plastic oceans, the melting of the poles and deforestation.

A photographer like Helene Schmitz is someone I find succesful in sharing these types of stories. A person going to depths in revealing something we might take for granted or not even think about, when living our every day life. How we exploit nature to our benefits. How it changes the landscape. How we import plants because they look nice, and how they then destroy a whole ecosystem, because the plant doesn’t have any natural enemies. These stories/photographs are all very relevant and are done in such an aesthetic, tasteful and appealing way, which for me invites the audience to be more open to take in what is actually going on here and maybe start thinking about how human life affects our surroundings.

Questioning human nature is something that has grown bigger over the past 5 years. I have found a channel for all my thoughts and by seeking and finding answers through investigations and science, the images I take becomes stories. Stories that I hope will create conversations and awareness regarding our position in the world. From the completely small as killing a spider in the livingroom, to gigantic issues like climate change, increased pollution, population growth, forest degradation etcetera. But documenting it, puts me under the radar. Suddenly I have started getting questions about my approach and the production of my artworks. For I have taken a position and now I have to be able to defend my own footprint. Surely I should set a good standard for being a modern human, when I talk about the food industry, pollution or wildfires, but being a modern human I too get numbed by bad habits. It is so easy not to change when you live a convenient life.



I live in a house where woodland once flourished
built from materials that wouldn’t be approved today…

there are things I own that I now know are harmful
if I throw them away, they pollute even more

I shop in a supermarket with open coolers
Buy food wrapped in plastic, from places far away

I stream movies and series from gigantic servers somewhere
I don’t always recycle even though I know I should

sometimes I buy single use bottles
sometimes I eat meat
sometimes I buy conventional
sometimes I fly for comfort

A bread from a cafe can be full of bad trails

I still buy it as hunger always wins

I’ve most likely bought clothes made by little kids in india
who are underpaid and should’ve been in school instead

I live next to endless roads of emporiums
Where lights are always on
even though they are closed two thirds of the day

I walk on asphalt that fills the air with fumes whenever the sun is out
Where millions of cars drive every day
Where millions of animals have taken their last breath

I too have been in cars that have taken lifes

It is a helpless act…

My bike leaks microplast into nature every time I ride it

My shoes do the same
They leave marks all over the rocks whenever I go climbing

so does the chalk on my hands

I bought a jacket with PFAS before I knew what it was

I still use it even though I now know it is bad
The jacket was expensive and I really like it
I don’t throw things out that work

Whenever I see trash in nature
I shake my head but I rarely pick it up

I am my own downfall



Getting questions about the production of my art is extremely relevant and I’m glad I get them. It is yet another thing you have to consider when making art, but in my mind it shouldn’t only be directed towards artists that work with the environment. It should be a question that all artists should think about. We are all in this together and every last one of us has the responsibility to make a change for the better. Therefore I am very aware of my own position when working on a project. I am no better than the next. I observe, I document, but I also feel the guilt exhaust me like a boulder around my chest, every time I take a shortcut.

Guilt has become a haunting feeling for the generations that have inherited the mess we’ve made in approximately the last 170 years. Looking at the history of cigarettes, one would think that changing the course of the world would be at least as challenging as stopping people from smoking after learning about lung cancer. We want to maintain the good life and still save the world from drowning in garbage and pesticides. So we patiently wait for the magic solution, while life continues as usual. We need to understand and learn more about our behavior and impact, even though we might not change over night. That is why I keep questioning human life through my lens.



Schmitz, Helene. 2023. (Hentet 13-03-2023)

Larsson, E. Att se empatiskt – Samtida fotografiers möte med globaliserade rörelser, samspel och konflikter. Ekfrase 4(1): 3-19, 2013

Lockeman, B. Ett fenomenologiskt betraktelsesätt av fotoboken. Imprint – Visual narratives in Books and Beyond, Hedberg, Knape, Martinsson, Wolters (ed), Göteborg 2014, p. 189-205

Demos, T. J., et al. (2021). The Routledge Companion to Contemporary Art, Visual Culture, and Climate Change. Milton, Milton: Taylor & Francis Group.

Carson, R. Silent spring, Boston : Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2002

Eliza Griswold, How ‘Silent Spring’ Ignited the Environmental Movement, NY Times. 2012. (Hentet 17-10-2022)

Brown, A. Art & ecology now. London : Thames & Hudson, 2014, p. 109

Christian Salling, Tue Greenfort: “Når jeg kigger på naturen, får jeg en bedre forståelse af vores civilisation”, 2020. (Hentet 17-10-2022)

Thea Deleuran Müller Karina Kold, Anna Lin har mareridt om klimaforandringerne: ‘Hvis jeg vælger at få børn, bliver det en kæmpe del af deres liv’, 2022. (Hentet 17-10-2022)