Christian Houge /   Christian Houge

Norway 1972


Christian Houge
Christian Houge
July 14, 2016
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The comfort zone is just that – comfortable, pleasant. It feels good to be within its borders, to feel safe and protected. However, as Christian Houge realizes, we often need to leave that safety in pursuit of ordinary life. He’s a Norwegian photographer who’s leaving his comfort zone behind, inviting the viewers to leave their own and join him on his journey, to try and see things from another perspective. Working in series, he’s widely known for his Arctic Technology, Barentsburg, Sola, Pyramid, and probably the most adventurous of them all – the Shadow Within series. It’s focused on wolves, and the artist had to undergo a course in security and body language in order to be close to them.

Antennaforest 2, from the Arctic Technology series, 2016, wolf, project, photo, 2013, photographs, free
Christian Houge – Antennaforest 2, from the Arctic Technology series

His Biography is a Visual One

For twenty years, Houge has been using his photography to explore the human condition as realized and influenced by nature. A curiosity for myth and folklore is pervading his work, spurred by the Norse legends he learned when he was younger. Also, there is a particular interest in exploring themes touching upon the relationship between nature and culture. The artist addresses the taboos arising from the juxtaposition of man and environment. Through his work, the artist asks the viewers some very complicated questions: “Is nature with or against us?” and “Are we with or against nature?” His pieces, nominated for several influential awards, have been featured in The New York Times, Fotografi, Time, and could be seen in exhibitions throughout Europe, the United States, and China, where his Paradise Lost solo exhibition has toured the cities of Beijing, Wenzhou and Guangzhou.

His pictures are related to and explore the relationship between nature and culture

Gasoline Pump In Moonlight, from the Barentsburg series photo world gallery
Christian Houge – Gasoline Pump In Moonlight, from the Barentsburg series

Most Notable Series

In Arctic Technology, the photographer explores highly technical climate research installations, satellite receivers and a Global seed vault with biodiversity located at Spitsbergen – an island 78 degrees north, between Norway and the North Pole. From all across the globe, this particular vault holds the seeds of many thousands of varieties of food crops, essential to the human race. Emphasizing that beneath their contemporary and visually captivating aesthetics, there exist deeper layers of interpretation, the artist explores man and man’s creations – our extrovert search for knowledge, but also our introvert search for insight. The Barentsburg project explores a Russian coal mining community, where a strong sense of the former Soviet Empire is still very much present. In his arguably most popular series, the Shadow Within, Houge reveals man’s relation to the wolf and ultimately, to himself. Our fascination with wolves comes from the fact that they are untamed. The humans tend to see themselves in that, longing for something that the culture has taken them so far from. With thoughts that wolves represent our rawness, and without criticizing culture, the photographer finds fascinating to look at what the very culture has done to us, but also how easily we can forget our biological nature.

He is one of the most popular contemporary artists in Norway

Untitled 22, from the Shadow Within series wolf new home world gallery
Christian Houge – Untitled 22, from the Shadow Within series

Between Culture and Nature

Fundamentally speaking, we humans are animals no different from any other type that lives on this planet. It is the culture that has made us ‘forget our true nature’, keeping our impulses, fears, and instincts in check. Interested in this phenomenon, the photographer sees nature and culture “being juxtaposed both within and without us”. Before all the identities, religions, teachers, we are nature and we have that nature within us, no matter how civilized we may become.

He is represented by Artistics.

Christian Houge lives and works in Oslo.

Feature image: Portrait of the artist
All images courtesy of Artistics

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2015Paradise LostThree Shadows Photography Art Center, Beijing, ChinaSolo
2015FotofeverArtistics Art Gallery, ParisGroup
2015Paradise LostHow Art Museum, Wenzhou, ChinaSolo
2014Shadow Within-Darkness Burns BrightFineart Gallery, OsloSolo
2014Shadow WithinJohnson Museum of Art, New YorkGroup
2014LIFF - Lofoten Internasjonale FotofestivalLofoten, NorwayGroup
2013Shadow WithinHosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, USAGroup
2013Erlik Kjaerlighet/BlomqvistKunstnernes Hus, OsloGroup
2012Vanishing Ice, Arctic TechnologyWhatcom - Museum of Washington, USASolo
2010Border DistrictHaugar Kunstmuseum, Tonsberg, NorwayGroup
2010ElementeneAkershus Kunstsenter, Lillestrom, NorwayGroup
2010In full colorHosfelt Gallery, New YorkGroup
2009Arctic technologyBarentsburg Hosfelt Gallery, San FranciscoSolo
2009AntArcticaHaugar Kunstmuseum, Tonsberg, NorwayGroup
2009The coldest winterHosfelt Gallery, San FranciscoGroup
2008UnknownGalleri Semmingsen Oslo, NorwayGroup
2008Arctic technologyHosfelt Gallery New York, USASolo
2007ArtBasel with Scout GalleryBazel, SwitzerlandGroup
2007PhotoLondon Fair with Zebra GalleryLondon, UKGroup
2007EvolutionGalleri Semmingsen Oslo, NorwayGroup
2006Year ZeroFestplassen, BergenSolo
2006Year ZeroByparken, StavangerSolo
2006TransitionGalleri A, OsloSolo
2006UnknownZebra One, London, UKGroup
2005Year Zero - on tortureRaddhusplassen, OsloSolo
2005Arctic TechnologyScout Gallery, London, UKSolo
2005Angkor - a personal reflectionGallery 27, OsloSolo
2005Paris Photo with Scout GalleryParis, FranceGroup
2005PhotoLondon Fair with Scout GalleryLondon, UKGroup
2003Kraft og bilder fra bokenFyrlyset, OsloSolo
2000SolaDet Gule Galleriet, StavernSolo
1997Tibet in exileHead On, OsloSolo
1997DeformatiaVolapuk, OsloSolo