What is this testament?

Shortly before Christmas 2018, I got a Leica M2 as a gift. Quite out of the blue.

This event sent me back to my 10-year old, coveting the darkroom. The camera made in 1963 belonged to legendary collector and art historian K. Frank Jensen. He happened to be my best friend.

When he died in 2016, I inherited the rare and unique in the world Carolus Zoya Marseille Tarot. Frank and I were inveterate card readers. I knew him for his interest in cards and the history of divination, not analogue photography.

Two years down the road I came to learn that Frank did black and white photography and darkroom printing, and won quite a few prizes for fine art and documentary photography, both in Denmark and abroad. I had no idea. For all the years I’ve know Frank, he never once mentioned it. It was always cards and cartomancy.

In December 2018 I visited his widow, Witta, and I told her about a few strange dreams I had of my favorite photographer, Yamamoto Masao. I told her about the time when I was ten, or thereabout, when I had to choose one week of extra curriculum activity outside the classroom. I chose photography.

After just one week, I thought I had found my calling. The magic of the darkroom was unbeatable. Alas, I had no money for a camera, let alone for setting up a darkroom of my own. My dreams were relegated to the innermost recesses of my soul, where they stayed dormant until Yamamoto started disturbing me.

Upon hearing this, Witta rushed to the basement. She handed me the Leica and said, ‘do what you must.’

After forty years of never even giving it a thought, now my guest room turned into a room for the return of the repressed.

Old things, old desires, and old suffering have slowly taken residence here, turning everything into a situation of ‘urgent and significant.’

To honor Frank’s memory and my desire, I decided to embark on a black and white photography journey called, The Danish Testament.

This website here documents my work with the Leica M2 and magic in the darkroom. The camera has undergone a full ‘re-furbishing’ in Germany, where it was sent on a ‘spa trip’ back to the mothership where it was born.

Even before that, when I first saw what it could do after so many years of neglect, the camera made me understand that it has a soul and love for me. I hope you’ll enjoy the postings here, and find some inspiration for your own dreams.

You might even like to come to an exhibition, and see the beauty of a silver gelatin print live, once I get that far.

Currently I’m working on a fine art portfolio, as we speak, so stay tuned.

Camelia Elias

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