The bookHanne Lise Thomsenoffers an overview of Hanne Lise Thomsen’s public art works produced in numerous locations in Denmark and around the world over the last 20 years. Her work is both aesthetic and political: she is interested in occupying urban spaces with images and in shaping the messages conveyed through these spaces. Elements of her public practice take the form of support for women’s rights, for the rights of refugees and the homeless, seeking to provide counter-narratives to the oversimplified representations of minorities, and which often nuance and influence public debates about these topics.
Drawing on the interventionist urban art that developed internationally during the 1980s, Hanne Lise Thomsen’s work takes inspiration from political protest movements and the experiments artists began making with new media. In this way, her practice speaks for the idea of the city as a place of diversity and acceptance. Whether occupying billboards with stark alternatives to advertising images or projecting private and personal images into public space, she amplifies the voice of marginalised and hidden communities, opening territory in urban spaces usually governed by the competitive logic of economic forces.
By inviting many contributors into her projects, working with local residents and professional photographers alike to articulate these hidden stories on the participants’ own terms, Hanne Lise Thomsen uses the photography of others much like a curator or film director, uncovering obscured histories and revealing them to the viewer in all their complexity. Each of these public projects is represented in the book by a selection of images accompanied by texts in English and Danish contextualising the work. In addition, texts by art historian Ditte Vilstrup Holm and historian of photography Mette Sandbye further situate Thomsen’s work in the Danish and international context.
The bookHanne Lise Thomsenillustrates how, in this ‘post-photographic’ age in which we are bombarded by an overwhelming array of digital images across social media and advertising, Hanne Lise Thomsen’s insistence on uncovering personal stories that intersect with broader social issues, and on using photography to tell nuanced stories and to articulate politicised histories in public space, becomes all the more essential as an activist artistic practice.