Asger Carlsen

True Lies

In the lead-up to his new exhibition with iconic American photographer Roger Ballen, VAULT sits down with the rising Danish image-maker Asger Carlsen to talk about the art of creating works that suspend our collective disbelief.

By Daniel Boetker-Smith OCT 2016

The chance to speak to Danish artist Asger Carlsen comes as he is sitting in the middle of the Dittrich & Schlechtriem gallery in Berlin on the eve of the opening of his new show No Joke, a long-term collaborative project with American artist Roger Ballen. Carlsen remains a relative newcomer in the contemporary art world. His project, Wrong, with its potent mix of the banal and the surreal, hit in 2010, and since then he has been featured in solo and group shows across the globe. His use of a stark black-and-white aesthetic which incorporates a harsh and decidedly unsubtle on-camera flash cast him, from day one, as a pseudo-newspaper photographer in the vein of the hard-boiled New York crime scene photographers of the 1930s and ’40s. Carlsen’s vision, however, seems intent on the creation of an entirely new and disturbing universe, like Ralph Eugene Meatyard meets Rod Serling. Before talking about his previous projects, I ask Carlsen how this intriguing and unexpected collaboration with Ballen came about.

“We were both featured in the VICE Photo Issue a few years back and we met, and Roger suggested we work together,” Carlsen tells me, as the gallery buzzes with installers and administrators in the background. The chance to work with someone of Ballen’s stature doesn’t come around often, and Carlsen jumped at the chance. The No Joke images are a result of a process of sharing images and ideas back and forth over a number of years; the final creations, which are also being... Subscribe to read this article in full

Purchase a pdf download of this issue (AUD$10)

Prefer a hard copy? Visit our subscription page to purchase single printed back issues.