ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. — In his third exhibition of photographs at Marc Straus, photographer Thomas Bangsted presents large-scale photographs that recreate historical maritime scenes through a painstaking process of shooting, collecting, and aggregating present-day images. The seven black-and-white pigment prints include selections from two different bodies of work — battleships and landscapes — both created through a similar process of long-term research and layering of photographs, sometimes taking years to complete a single image.
Bangsted’s current work-in-progress is concerned with a monument in his native Denmark. Commissioned in 1920 by a wealthy World War I war profiteer, who made his fortune by selling goulash (known in Danish as a gullaschbaron) to the troops on both sides, it was placed on Thor Island, a small island that once served as a sacrificial ground to the Nordic god, Thor. Eventually the gullaschbaron committed suicide, and the forest grew up around the monument. Bangsted is making a small group of images that recreate and trace the removal and relocation of the sculpture to the mainland, following the purchase by a Danish factory in 1958. The process has involved him digging a massive trench in the backyard at the home of his in-laws, where he and his growing family have relocated from Brooklyn. I sat down with Bangsted in his home studio in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, to discuss the process behind his intricate and labor-intensive photographs, which push his relationship to the medium, and the medium’s relationship to ideas of truth.