Urša Premik

2013 - Ongoing


Super Hilda is a work in progress in which the photographer Urša Premik keeps upgrading and adding to her ongoing portrait photography project involving her grandmother Hilda. Since her first portrait of Hilda was captured in 2013, photography sessions have become a customary way of their spending time together. The first documentary shots of the grandma’s everyday life have gradually been complemented by staged photographs with a more clear-cut narrative structure, evolving in the latest edition into fully controlled scenes imitating fashion features. The photographer intentionally places the object of her fascination in environments and situations that elicit a range of reactions. Covered in cloaks and coats, Hilda occasionally turns into Super Hilda, an eccentric and characterful heroine who possesses the supernatural power of old age and, a cigarette in her hand, embodies the antithesis of, deviation from, and objection to the expected beauty standards. Through a collage of spontaneous and staged images, she speaks of her grandma from a fully personal point of view, allowing the viewer to witness Hilda’s numerous transformations. The result is a subtle, thoroughly playful portrayal that avoids the stereotypical depiction of the elderly and challenges the dominant fashion trends and illusions of eternal youth.

Fictitious and idealised images of Hilda could also be comprehended as an alternative representation of the elderly. Despite all the social initiatives addressing the issue of old age and elderly people, public discourse still considers old age and ageing as defects and deficiencies which can be eliminated if the right manipulation methods are applied. Many people (including the elderly) perceive old age and ageing as something negative, burdensome, unattractive or even shameful, thus relegating the elderly to the margins of society. It is becoming increasingly evident that a new rhetorical paradigm is needed which also addresses the demographic transition visually. Photography seems to be well suited for the task as a medium that can carry the message and imaginings as well as allow for alternative ways of interpretation and reading.

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