Text by Ilgın Deniz Akseloglu

Art may not always meander its way gently by mediation of the artist. Triggered by the will to express as artistic manifestation, the artist may find herself in a maze of self-examination that requisites redefinition through refusals. Sometimes, this redefinition comes with greater responsibilities who do not acknowledge any other way of existence rather than becoming the bearer of a worldview through trying to exercise it in every act, as equally as in artistic practices and in living.

In this case, there is no doubt that Lene Marie Fossen’s whole being is intrinsic to her art. She is redefining borders through portraiture; self-portraits and portraits of children who have been escaping from the war. Fossen’s interest in mirroring her worldview through her own image as well as through the children who have faced destruction in their short lifetime points a strong identification that posits a questioning about the borders that separate or unify them, as she also chose to ‘stop time’ and remain as a kid.

It is puzzling to think why a child would not want to grow up, however, when it comes to Fossen’s work, one must move a bit much further to confront the deeper strata in her inquisition and consider her multi-faceted statement: why the artist she has become today is insistent on the ‘growth of life’, at the same time she did not want to grow up herself?

She asks:

Why is it so difficult to let life unfold? 

To let it grow and become what it wants?

I ask you again:

Why is it so difficult?

Lene Marie Fossen was born in Norway. She is part of a generation of people around the world who have spent a great deal of their childhood watching dead bodies of their peers on televisions. She was born around the time when Berlin Wall fell. She was just a kid while Yugoslavia was breaking up in pieces in bloodshed. She saw the picture of a vulture that is chasing slowly a crippling baby who is about to die in Africa because of famine. September 11 attacks, battle in Baghdad and the ongoing war in Afghanistan are among just a few incidents which followed soon after, and she neither could roll her eyes and look aside, nor shut them off. She saw all that was happening, and she refused premeditations that would help herself take a side and allow herself to take part. She rather chose to be The Gatekeeper and in her redefinition of borders, she chose to stay at the border.

The characteristics of her incongruity as an artist did not let her rest under protection and mummify herself in muteness. Instead, today, after 20 years she has made her decision, her creative impulse still keeps her on a knife-edge, on a power wire, staring at both sides of the gateway, inhabiting a territory that exists almost only virtually and she enables access to this territory through the device of timelessness, of photography, for the others and she thinks that it needs to be seen. It is her inscription. It is her choreography. It is Lene Marie Fossen as art.



Ilgın Deniz Akseloglu (1988, Istanbul) is an independent curator, writer and researcher.

Akseloglu has been in charge of the exhibitions program of Operation Room art space in Istanbul since 2014 and is currently working as a researcher and advisor for Bilder Nordic School of Photography in Oslo.

She worked as the associate curator of the contemporary art program of Cappadox Festival (2016-18), as production coordinator for the 15th Istanbul Biennial (2015), and as artist liaison at Dirimart Gallery (2014).

In her art praxis, Akseloglu has a focus on lens-based media. She worked as writer and editor in several photography projects such as MONO, Gomma Mag (Gomma Books, London) and 10x10 Photobooks Project (2019). Following an award she got with her short movie  Onion, she was chosen to participate to the Stranger Academy Video Workshop (European Cultural Foundation, Amsterdam, 2009).

Akseloğlu co-curated the exhibition “A Pillar Of Smoke” for the 49th edition of Les Rencontres d’Arles (France), and she was also among the jury members of Book Awards 2018 in the festival. “A Pillar Of Smoke” has been presented at the Jimei x Arles International Photography Festival (Xiamen, China), from November 23, 2018 to January 3, 2019. A part of the show has also been hosted by Galerie Paris-Beijing (Paris), between 15 November 2018 – 15 January 2019.

In November 2018, Akseloglu completed Photo Kathmandu Mixed Media Residency Program in Nepal, organized by Photo Circle and is for the moment following Webster University Art Residency in Leiden, The Netherlands.