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Posted Aug 25th, 2015 (2:07 pm) by Theresa Flanagan
Grimes (Tonje Thilesen)
Image by Tonje Thilesen

Last time we brought you Visuals, UK based photographer Joe Giacomet lit up the page with some of his gorgeous photographs, including a couple of previous series contributor Bibio. Our latest installment comes your way from Berlin based photographer (and globetrotter) Tonje Thilesen.

First, we asked her for a bit of background:

"I started as a freelance photographer in 2010 when I was still living in Oslo, Norway, where I grew up. From 2011 until 2014, I wrote about new, underground music for the Berlin-based music website No Fear Of Pop and interacted with DIY labels and artists on a daily basis. Basically, I made hella internet friends. Some of the artists I met online early on, finally launched into successful careers—Mutual Benefit, Ryan Hemsworth, Purity Ring, Hundred Waters, Majical Cloudz, How To Dress Well, and so forth. New labels played a big part of that too, especially after I moved to Berlin in 2012: PAN Records, Hippos in Tanks, 100% Silk, Triangle Records, etc.

Music has always been my main field of interest, and photography naturally became a part of it. Because I didn't have the creative backbone to produce sounds myself, I started documenting the people around me. I shot a lot of music festivals for Pitchfork in 2013 and 2014, and a good handful of the artists I met during portrait shoots at festivals slowly became friends, too. I travel a lot, and so do my friends in music, so we always end up in the same place at some point in time."


FORM Arcosanti, 2015


Moses Sumney


Bing & Ruth


Trayer (Hundred Waters)


Mutual Benefit

"Over Memorial Day Weekend in May, I traveled out to the high desert of Arizona to shoot the second installation of FORM Arcosanti, a non-profit "festival" founded by my friends Hundred Waters, and their management company Family. I've toured a bit with Hundred Waters in the past (practically all over the US), and discovered the urban laboratory / experimental town of Arcosanti last year, when we stopped by on our way back from Austin, Texas to Los Angeles.

Arcosanti was developed in the 1970s by urban architect Paolo Soleri, who wanted to create an "arcology"—basically an independent, sustainable city, as a protest against urbanization. It is a magical place, and perhaps my favorite location in the US. Hundred Waters set up a mini-festival last year, and invited our friends How To Dress Well, Majical Cloudz, Julie Byrne (and so forth) to play in Arcosanti's amphitheater. This year, they decided to bring it a step further, and invited artists such as Holly Herndon, The Antlers, Moses Sumney, M Geddes Gengras, Skrillex (<3), Pharmakon, and many more, and allowed me to book Jacques Greene and Bing & Ruth to join us as well. The idea of FORM is quite unlike any other modern-day festival: it is entirely non-profit and free for its festival goers, and the program is set up so that no live music overlaps. The attendees are hand-picked by the band through an online application form, solely to make sure that every person attending (only 500 in total, 1000 including artists and friends) are people that would come into Arcosanti and respect the place and its residents. All the artists (with a few exceptions) and the production team are friends of the band, many of them who have toured with or alongside Hundred Waters as well.

Almost all of the artists that were invited ended up staying in Arcosanti for the full festival weekend, and the beauty they experienced through the people and architecture around them truly reflected back from their live performances. I think FORM has re-invented the idea of a music festival, in the way that they give the respect and focus back to performing music, and instead of setting up a heavily sponsored event, they invite people to explore a very special place together with like-minded people. It's not as drug-heavy as one may think, which was profoundly refreshing. The music just happens to be a part of it, to alter the experience, to embrace the architecture and nature in the most natural way possible. Photos ended up on New York Times and Pitchfork."



Patten in London

"The first time I saw Patten play live was at the short-lived experimental venue Raum in Berlin, situated in an old factory (type) building in the deep corners of Neukölln. It was a Thursday night in 2011, a night co-hosted by No Fear Of Pop. Patten played for 2,5 hours, wrapping up his set as the sun was rising, illuminating the room and our tired, drunken faces.

I've been twitter buddies with Patten, or D as he introduced himself as, since meeting him again during at Moogfest, in Asheville, last year. This spring, I went to London to photograph him and his band mate in the suburbs of London. Even to this day, I don't know what D stands for. I never asked. It doesn't really bother me, though."




Panda Bear in Lisbon

"In October last year, I spent four days with Noah (Panda Bear) and journalist Philip Sherburne in Lisbon, Portugal, shooting a cover story for Pitchfork. Noah picked us up in his tiny family car, and drove out to his favorite beach, located about half an hour from Lisbon proper. Laying down on the beach, he spoke of recording his latest album, and returning to this specific location, from time to time, to find silence—sometimes alone, sometimes with his family. On the way back, he brought us to a local seafood restaurant, and I think I ate the best seafood of my life."



Empress Of in Westport, Connecticut

"The first time I met Lorely was during a short, and relatively spontaneous shoot I did with her in Los Angeles after a show in 2013, and I instantly fell in love with her dorky, and almost awkward presence. Earlier in May, I brought her up to my friend's house in Westport, Connecticut, and spent the entire day shooting photos and listening to Justin Bieber in my friend's car."

You can check out more of Tonje's work at the links below, and she also gave us the scoop on one of her latest projects:
"I was just in Karachi, Pakistan for the month of April, and shot/wrote a story for VICE UK on the "current state" of feminism in Karachi. I have another series of photos coming out later this year from Karachi, which I can't really elaborate any further on right now, but I'm pretty excited about that."

Check out full-size images in the gallery below, and stay tuned for the next installment of Visuals coming your way in two weeks!

Previously on Visuals:
Dorje de Burgh
Ellie Pritts
Stephen Wilkinson (Bibio)
James Livitski
Brian Vu
Joe Giacomet

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