Both series explore cultural identities within urban and rural areas, landscapes, and portraiture.
Nordic Signs,(1989-1994) is a poetic reflection on the inherent qualities of lands ruled by the elements. Eskildsen travelled throughout Norway, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, hoping to put forward nature’s strength and the relationship it builds with those who inhabit it. A mystic and ethereal atmosphere transpires from these contemplative images of painterly quality. The identity they draw on is of a land dreamt out of nostalgia, a land of pure light and infinite freedom.
“I think that I managed to capture here the meaning of the Nordic Signs, something that is at the same time wild yet liveable, and profoundly shaped by the climate, the wind, and destiny.” Joakim Eskildsen writes. This series of photographs is the artist’s first long term project and marks the beginning of his collaboration with the Swedish poet Cia Rinne, who later became his wife.
The Roma Journeys (2000-06) is another work sprung from this collaboration. Joakim Eskildsen and Cia Rinne travelled across Hungary, India, Greece, Romania, France, Russia and Finland to witness the daily lives of Roma Gypsies. The photographs reflect on a journalistic approach: taking the form of a travel diary, the viewer follows the footstep of its explorer, gaining a close and intimate insight into a world that is rarely seen, yet too often discriminated. The moment of encounter makes the photographs, emphasising the presence of each individual so strongly within every portrait taken.
"We have frequently been asked what had triggered our interest in the Roma, but we were unable to provide a definitive, let alone exhaustive answer. What is certain is that once we hard started we were unable to simply stop continuing with the project. The more we found out about the Roma and got to know them, the more our interest in and liking for them grew.", Eskildsen explains.
The series is an important document and exploration of a unique group of people as they live their lives in the midst of seven distinctly different cultures. In keeping with the different countries travelled, the photographic body of work is divided into seven series, the sequence of which resonates with the chronology of the duo's journeys. The project culminated in the award-winning book The Roma Journeys, published by Steidl in 2007.