​Kellen Mohr on Enlightened Denmark

On the Road October 13, 2015

“Always try to remain alert for anything that causes light to behave in less than ordinary ways – fog or clouds that create a sense of infinity or weightlessness, unusual perspectives that create interesting silhouettes.”

Kellen Mohr’s pursuit for the intertwining interactions of light and matter in the perpetual universe’s wraps has lead his unsated steps to an otherworldly space. A contstantly shifting immense sky,  minimal tides of muted color palettes islanded with terra cotta orange, multifaceted mistique, massive wind turbines and creative endeavors of capturing the right moment – in a nutshell: Denmark.

denmark by Kellen Mohr_02 denmark by Kellen Mohr_03 denmark by Kellen Mohr_04

Travelling to Denmark was nothing short of enlightening.  Departing from the ugly, traffic-snarled, endless sprawl of Los Angeles, touching down in Copenhagen seemed indistinguishable from travelling to the future.  Impeccably designed, yet totally foreign mechanisms for navigating public transport greeted my parents and I as we stumbled onto the train leading to the center of the city.  We pressed buttons that turned out not to be buttons, couldn’t read a single fragment of the language, and generally matched the clueless tourist trope to a “T.”

We were in the country to link up with my twin sister Kylie, who had been studying in Copenhagen for the duration of the year.  We met her at the train station, where she blended in with the crowds of people flowing home from work, almost exclusively dressed in impeccably fitted all-black or muted tonal clothing.  We embraced tightly and set off down the narrow cobblestone streets, and I really began to soak in the vibe of the city.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that Danish society holds an extremely high regard for the aesthetic, the intelligently designed, and that it carries over to even the most minute aspects of day-to-day life.  It felt so invigorating to find inspiration in the curves of a saltshaker or the hem of a long wool jacket on someone biking to work, and I think that carried over to my photography.  I was in a perpetual state of awe, watching as people swirled by incredibly minimal storefronts in a wash of muted/tonal color palettes.  This city really opened my eyes to the muted tonal ranges of colors, how extraordinarily well a soft range of tones can cloak a person or object in a welcoming haze of feelings.  I can’t put this into words very well, and I think that’s why I turn to photography to express these types of primal feelings, because when it comes down to it, words are merely symbols for an experience, not the experience itself.  If I were to try to translate these experiences into words, it’s something that enveloped and shifted the foundations of my perspective on light and color immensely, and helped me quite literally look at the world around me in a new glow.

denmark by Kellen Mohr_05 denmark by Kellen Mohr_06 denmark by Kellen Mohr_07

I shot a ton of film on this trip- probably the most I ever have in two weeks if I’m being honest.  Also, if I’m being honest, my inspiration was fleeting- the vast majority of the rolls that I shot in utter, wild excitement turned out to be disappointing when they finally came back from the lab.  I remember thinking to myself that this was the trip that brought my sense of space (and thus photography) to a different level, leaving me able to convey a more encompassing take on my surroundings, but I don’t think that is consistently evident until the rolls from later in my summer when I was back wandering solo through the mountains of Washington.

However, it was far from a total wash.  I came away from this trip with a handful of shots that I was wildly stoked on, especially from our ventures into the countryside north of Copenhagen to the rural fishing towns of the northern tip of the country.  This area reminded me of a vast expanse of rolling fields in southern Washington, just to the south of my hometown of Spokane called the Palouse, but draped in the brilliant yellow of a canola crop ready to be harvested and dotted with massive wind turbines slowly spinning away the day.

The windswept coastal fishing town of Skägen, situated on the northernmost tip of the country, holds a special place in my heart.  Beyond the incredible light and windswept dunes that have drawn painters and artists to the town for centuries, Skägen is also the name of my now deceased childhood dog, who I was incredibly close with and who will forever hold a special spot in my sun-drenched memories of growing up.  Here, on the opposite side of the earth, I began to realize why my parents had named her after this place, with every building uniformly painted this soft tone of yellow, capped off with terra cotta orange.  The entire town gave off a remarkably friendly, open, enthusiastic vibe that meshed with my dog’s personality in a way that I can’t quite articulate.

1943-S1-0014_29741943-S1-0011-2_2330  denmark by Kellen Mohr_08

I was out of my mind with creative excitement while I was staying in Skägen.  Seemingly everywhere I looked, I was overwhelmed with appreciation- whether it be for the color scheme on a fishing trawler, the glazes on the rustic pieces at the local ceramics storefront, or the absolutely immense skies, I was in heaven.  I can’t tell you enough about the sky, and I don’t think I got a single picture that showed just how layered, multidimensional, immense, and constantly shifting it was.

I think that there is no real distinction between the people in my photos and the environment they find themselves in.  I see both of them as part of the same process, the same endless event unfolding, and I think that discerning that non-relationship is what allows me to see the world the way I do.  Since we’ve already established that I can never put into words what I can put into pictures, I’m going to shut up and turn it over to the photos that I took on the other side of the earth.

w. Kellen Mohr

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