Tina Enghoff’s Dogwalk and Kent Klich’s Out of Sight are testaments to the interrogative possibilities of photography. The books document the images and installation of the Get Lost project in Copenhagen, a sensitive examination of homelessness that simultaneously challenges traditional views of public space and how photography functions within it.
Mounted on simple wooden beams staked in concrete dividers, Enghoff’s images highlight and embed the mundane in the landscape: a crushed cup or a mattress in the grass. These photographs, made along the route from Copenhagen station to a nearby homeless shelter and displayed along that same path, become highly complex signs. They subvert the standard values of the billboard or street sign on which they are modeled by reflecting only the buildings and objects existing around them. Only a few rare images depict people, yet the viewer has a ghostly double-sense of a human presence: first of those who have dwelled in the abandoned lots, and then of the seemingly anonymous photographer who captures their traces.
The images documenting Klich’s photographs and installations present a strong counterpoint to Enghoff’s work. A series of 12 black-and-white portraits of homeless persons sleeping is presented in central public locations. The photographs are mounted on frames of chain-link fencing and placed on sidewalks, but they are read only as another piece of the cityscape: children clamber over them; adults drift past them. The sleeping individuals are separated from their status as the homeless. Even as they are exhibited in the form of an art installation, they remain invisible to those who surround them. One wonders whether the photographs’ viewers are any more wakeful than their subjects.
Rather than document what others cannot see, Enghoff and Klich reiterate what some might prefer to leave unseen. However, these works surpass the polemic to become a delicate explication of a complex social situation, using photography to study Copenhagen’s homeless, its everyday citizens, and the spaces they inhabit together.
Nicholas Chiarella is the Imaging Specialist for the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives in Santa Fe. His work has appeared in Santa Fe Trend and BathHouse Hypermedia, among other publications. He can be reached at email@example.com.