GO BIG OR GO HOME: Hanging out with Atla, the female photography collective

Meet the four women who are committed to “creating an environment where there’s room for everything”

art | atla | collective
Photo: Emma Ishøy

“I don’t think that it necessarily has anything to do with our gender, but moreso the feminine energy and feminine values that we cultivate — creating an environment where there’s room for everything. You can come into work and have a cry, there is always a shoulder to cry on; and equally, you can come in feeling on top of the world, and we are there to uplift that energy even further,” Linnea is saying. “All these feelings can excite at the same time. There are no wrong feelings. There are no expectations; there’s nothing you can’t do or any particular way you have to act. There are all these very different emotions at play.”

We’re in an massive apartment-turned-coworking space in Copenhagen chatting with the women behind Atla, the female collective for emerging photography – of which Linnea makes up one-fourth. The other 75% is Sara, Amanda and Cecilia, and we’re here to learn more about their collective in general, and their upcoming exhibition “Meltdown” [Nedsmeltning] in particular. We’ll be listening in as they share about the philosophy behind Atla, and follow them like a couple of fangirls as they make their way across the city to do some final show prep – including picking up some of the biggest prints we’ve ever seen:

Video / Subs: Emma Ishøy

So, why Atla?

“We all wanted to create something! An inclusive platform. That’s why we came together,” Sara says. Back in 2018, the four women united around the initiative of creating an exhibition venue for emerging Nordic photographers with something on their hearts, to give them a platform to showcase their work. Now that they’re going strong, Atla curates 4-5 exhibitions annually, both on their own premises and as pop-up events. The exhibition programs vary widely, both thematically and photographically, but cover subjects like representation, interpersonal relationships, memory and staging reality, queer identity and body image. They also host artist talks, panel discussions, book fairs, open-call based exhibitions and cross-artistic performances…
…all of which goes to show ya how much awesomeness comes out of women joining forces.

“When I met the other three, I was blown away by the energy,” Linnea says. “There were these three powerhouses. I just needed to work with them.”

“We are very good at catching each other and thriving on each other’s energy. It’s a safe environment, because we always know where we have each other,” Sara adds.

art | atla | collective
Atla / Photo: Emma Ishøy

And why “Meltdown”?

“We thought it was interesting to just give the artist the word Meltdown and see what would come out of it,” Linnea tells us. “The theme kinda created itself; it could be climate change, it could be an internal meltdown… An identity meltdown or an ecological meltdown, or even just a material meltdown.”

And we don’t have to wait long to check it out. For those of us in (or able to make it to) the Copenhagen area, Meltdown will be open this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 18th – 20th. The Atla chicks promise a multidisciplinary exhibition featuring twenty emerging artists who explore internal and external reactions to worlds in unmaking by merging photography, film, poetry, sound, installation and performance. The exhibition unfolds the relationship to both an inner and an outer world and explores what happens when these worlds are breaching and melt into each other.

Meltdown is an internal collapse, while the world outside keeps on happening; it’s about growing up, while the world is melting. 

We’ll definitely be there to take it all in, and can’t wait to see what the Atla collective – and their contagious, innovative energy – have up their sleeves next.

Follow along with the Atla ladies and their work by visiting their Instagram and the website (featuring our current favorite webshop, btw).

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