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Salad Days, Fryd Frydendahl (2023)
Photography Fryd Frydendahl

These photos capture what it’s like to be young, fun and full of feelings

Fryd Frydendahl’s new photo book Salad Days chronicles deeply personal ‘frozen moments’ from the Danish photographer’s archive

“I’ve always used my practice as a way to deal with my own feelings,” explains Fryd Frydendahl, the Danish photographer whose work exposes the innocence, trepidation, chaos and cruel optimism of being young. In a new photobook titled Salad Days [published by Marrow Press] – an ode to the Shakespearean phrasing that symbolises the vulnerability of youthful ignorance – Frydendahl opens up her archive of deeply intimate portraits from the last decade.

Salad Days traces Frydendahl’s development as an artist, from some of her early unpublished work to newer images produced exclusively for the book in 2022. These photographs are punctuated by the desire to capture the sincerity and connection between the subjects of her gaze and herself. “Earlier in my career, I created a big body of work on my nephews to get over a traumatic loss. That project deeply influenced the way I view photography,” explains Frydendahl in a conversation over Zoom. “The portraits that are part of this collection embody that experience and my artistic practice, where everything is deeply interlinked to the next. When I look at these photographs, I can see exactly where I was in my life when I shot them and unexpectedly how I felt.”

“I don’t ever use the word documentary to describe my work because my photographs are a skewed version of reality” – Fryd Frydendahl

While Frydendahl’s visual language has evolved over ten years, she possesses a unique ability to take control of a portrait from behind the camera. Frydendahl says, “I’m interested in how I can influence my subjects by forming a relationship with them, merge myself into the photograph, and create work that is distinctively me.” Through this personal approach, her portraits become intimate sites of memory that invite the viewer to examine themes of loss, friendship and selfhood.

Flipping through the photobook, it is hard to pinpoint what niche the photographer falls into. Frydendahl’s style shuttles from commercial to editorial to documentary, knowingly veering away from a label to be slotted into. Instead, she asserts that, for her, photography is a skewed form of reality that is comparable to youth in its ephemerality, “I don’t ever use the word documentary to describe my work because my photographs are a skewed version of reality. When I take portraits of people, I always look at them differently than I did before because we share this frozen moment that we made together. Photography, then, is a mirror of what you think is real and reflects time differently.

Although Salad Days has existed in previous iterations, such as in the form of an exhibition at the V1 gallery in New York, Frydendhal’s kinship with print has allowed the project to take on a new mode. The permanence of a photo book, in particular, was appealing to the photographer; she reflects, “A book and a photograph are both so similar to me. Unlike an exhibition that is experienced once or twice, you can always go back to a photo book, and each time you look at it, it has a different meaning and holds different value.” 

Salad Days by Fryd Frydendahl is published by Marrow Press and is available now.

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