Viggo, a photographer before an actor

Havana,

Source: La Jiribilla

"To leave my home is always an adventure and in Havana something happens every day, things the world doesn't know about and things we photographers see because we always observe much more." An interview with the North American actor and photographer Viggo Mortensen in connection with the opening of the exhibition of his work at the Fototeca de Cuba.

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Un hueco en el sol Exhibit Opening - Habana Vieja, Cuba 5.6.03
Un hueco en el sol Exhibit Opening - Habana Vieja,....
© Aldo Mederos.
 
'I do not believe much in borders, national anthems, ideologies, or whatever means or symbols are used to separate human beings. What interests me is the free exchange of ideas, feelings, words and images. For that reason I travel to Cuba, believing with all my soul that it is essential to give free rein to our curiosity, to our natural desire to share and compare the impressions that we get in this life. We have much more in common than not. Thanks for the invitation, the opportunity to learn more. And to speak, of course!' (Viggo Mortensen 01 May 2003)

On the morning of May 1 a North American photographer arrived in Havana. It was not by chance that he arrived on that day, he had chosen it over other flight options because it seemed to him that it would be interesting to leave the airport and travel directly to the Plaza de la Revolución and take his first photos of Cuba there. But because of delays by baggage handling and customs procedures, the photographer Viggo Mortensen entered the city 'when most people had already returned to their homes, after a special day (of celebration) for Cubans.'

However, for this artist 'to leave my home is always an adventure and in Havana something happens every day, things the world doesn't know about and things we photographers see because we always observe much more.' His stay on the Island is thanks to the Fototeca de Cuba, a gallery that is showing his exhibition called 'Un hueco en el sol,' an abstract study of spaces and objects found in different places around the world where he has traveled in search of encounters with other cultures.

'I always wanted to travel to Cuba, like many people in the United States, but it is difficult. Now I (alone) am allowed a visit of one week, but I would like to return for a month during the Biennial Celebration. Then I could study the landscapes, the streets, the walls and people, and go looking for those details that allow you to show that not everything has been said and done in art, that this is not the end or the death, that there are still things (waiting) to be discovered."

And some have discovered that you are a well-known Hollywood actor who portrayed Aragorn in the first two films of The Lord of the Rings and in the third film which is still shooting?

"Some. It is something that's inevitable and therefore I accept it. The movies are a result of my studies of acting (Dramalogue Critics Prize for his performance in the play Bent). I tried to do it and it has gone well for me. I have made several films (Crimson Tide, The Indian Runner, Psycho, Carlito's Way, Portrait of a Lady) between good and bad, but it is only after working in Peter Jackson's film version of Tolkien's novel that they know me everywhere in the world."

Un hueco en el sol Exhibit Opening - Habana Vieja, Cuba 5.6.03
Un hueco en el sol Exhibit Opening - Habana Vieja,....
© Aldo Mederos.
 
The artist recognizes that this has influenced the rest of his work, and for that reason he preferred that while in Cuba he was only seen as the photographer he also is.

"In Denmark, where I have roots, they rated me very highly after the first film, nevertheless I have now published a volume of poems and a certain critic attacked me saying that I should dedicate myself to acting. However I write, I paint, I've taken photographs since high school, long before becoming an actor and I have published a book of these works before filming The Lord of the Rings."

Mortensen sees all of these media as forms of expression, although in the case of film alone 'I am a part, one color in the work, to which I will give all of the inspiration from my life experience and surroundings.'

In the face of the unquestionable force of his image on the big screen that attempts to overshadow the rest of his work, the artist concludes: 'I continue creating because I need to create, because not all of those that come to my exhibitions do so because of my films, and because life is short, and even if it is easy, it is necessary to hurry.'
Last edited: 24 June 2006 13:29:46
© La Jiribilla.