“First, we will die. Then we will be forgotten.” | Photographer Balder Olrik | Louisiana Channel

What does a graveyard tell about life? Meet Danish artist Balder Olrik who has been walking around Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris for months, taking fascinating pictures of empty mausoleums.

“I looked into one of the mausoleums, and it hit me really hard in the stomach. There was a huge bouquet of flowers made of silk with hundreds of spiderwebs on top of it. It was really painful. At this moment, I realized that we are going to be forgotten.”

Olrik has recently been confronted with death in his personal life and took to Paris to recover from severe illness. By chance, he visited Père Lachaise and found – in the middle of vibrant Paris – a silent world of its own.

“It’s obvious that somebody has loved somebody. The most touching mausoleums are the ones where you actually can see that there was love between some people – someone who is dead, somebody that’s alive. But at a certain point, it is left there. Maybe because the person who loved died. Or fell in love with somebody else.”

“It made me realize that maybe I should just do the things I want to do in life. And maybe it is also an awkward worry – this worry of not being eternal. Why is it so hard for us to grasp the fact that we don’t live forever, that it has an end? Maybe it is causing us a lot of trouble while we live that we care so much about ourselves for when we are not alive.”

Danish artist Balder Olrik (b. 1966) entered The Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen at age 16, one of the youngest artists ever to attend. Shortly after entering the academy, he was included in numerous exhibitions at museums and galleries worldwide, gaining international recognition for his works. In 1998, Olrik left the art world and became an early pioneer in new media technology, launching a successful viral media company. Sixteen years later, he returned to art, focusing on photography primarily inspired by behavioural and perceptual science. Olrik expresses a distinct silence and solitude within his art, a theme prevalent throughout his early works to the present. He lives and works in Paris and Copenhagen.

Balder Olrik was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at Cimetière du Père-Lachaise in Paris in October 2022.

Camera: Simon Weyhe
Edited by: Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022

Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.

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