Hilde Honerud’s series GYM is comprised of photographs taken last years during several visits to the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesvos, in Greece, where she joined people doing sports through the organization Yoga and Sports with Refugees (YSR).
Moria Camp was notorious for being Europe’s worst refugee camp and housed somewhere between 6000 – 21000 people depending on the influx. The camp was originally dimensioned for 3000 people. In September 2020 it burned down, and a new camp was built on Lesvos. Unfortunately, this is no better than the first. The situation in the Mediterranean as of August 2023 is still severe. Refugees are still being treated in inhumane ways and Europe continues to violate basic human rights as the right to apply for asylum.
Honerud participated in different activities during her stays like yoga, swimming, wrestling, Muay Thai, Kung Fu, kickboxing, parkour, bodybuilding and boxing. Honerud works closely with the people she photographs – over weeks, months and sometimes years – and she considers it necessary to try and achieve what she believes is most necessary: to convey the experience and reality of the person being photographed. Honerud refers to Jon Berger’s essay Uses of Photography (1978) regarding her approach to this philosophy: “For the photographer this means thinking of her or himself not so much as a reporter to the rest of the world but rather, as a recorder for those involved in the events photographed. The distinction is crucial.”
Honerud’s work is in the tradition of a journalistic and documentary approach, but her motifs are far from the classical disaster photography. In a time where images are everywhere, and catastrophic events are commonplace, there is need for questioning, she asks: how can we communicate these serious incidents through images? Honerud uses a formal approach, often in close collaboration with those recorded. The documentary style images are interspersed with images that are clearly manipulated.
Hilde Honerud (1977) lives and works in Kongsberg, Norway. She is educated at the National Academy of Arts in Oslo. In 2018 she was awarded county artist of the year in Buskerud, she’s held recent solo exhibitions at MELK (Oslo), RAKE (Trondheim), Nord-Trøndelag Art Museum, Tenthaus (Oslo), Fotogalleriet (Oslo), Buskerud Art Centre (Drammen), Bærum kunsthall and CHART Art fair (DK), and is exhibited at Les Rencontres d´Arles summer 2023, and MELK (Oslo) April 2024. Honerud is associate professor of photography at the University of Southeastern Norway, where she is research group leader and has published a number of articles within artistic research.