By Jillisa Helzner
Welcome to NYWIFT, Florence Montmare! Florence is an artist, photographer and director based out of New York, Gotland, and Stockholm, Sweden. Her work is represented by Ivy Brown Gallery and Valerie Goodman, New York, and has been exhibited internationally at Les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles, Casino Luxembourg, Saarlandmuseum, Centre d’art Contemporain du Luxembourg, Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain Belgium, Färgfabriken Sweden and at Fotografiska New York.
Florence spoke to us about her remarkable globetrotting career.
Can you give us a brief overview of your career in media?
After earning an MBA in Design Management in Sweden, I went on to study photography at the School of Visual Arts and the International Center of Photography in New York. Mentored by artist Sam Samore, I worked with him in Paris and New York on exhibitions at MOMA PS1, Fondation Cartier, and Centre National de Photographie and feature films. I was an artist in residence at Chashama New York, at Ingmar Bergman Estate, and Baltic Center for writers in Sweden. Previously, I had also worked in advertising and started an agency in New York working with Panasonic, among other clients.
Tell us about your experience as the Head of Cultural and Public Affairs at the Consulate General of Sweden?
In 2020, I accepted the position as Head of Cultural and Public Affairs at the Consulate General of Sweden. It was a way of combining my understanding for creative practice with cultural diplomacy. The work was focused on film and event production, within the creative industries, developing concepts across different platforms. One fun part was to build and maintain relationships with partners, cultural institutions, media within the creative industries — music, film, art and architecture.
Using the gorgeous Official Residence of Sweden on Park Avenue as a locale, I produced and managed online, video, TV, and live productions for the Swedish International Book Fair, Nobel Prize ceremony (for Swedish Television), the Right Livelihood Awards, Design Diplomacy, Nordic International Film Festival, and a virtual music project, Cloud Sessions.
Your professional journey has been remarkable! What were some of the first influences in your life that led you to where you are today?
I was born in Vienna, to Swedish and Greek parents, and raised in Stockholm. I grew up surrounded by creative women, my grandmother, my mom and my aunt. My father was also very interested in design. As a kid, I painted, played the classical piano, danced, and choreographed my friends. I also received my first camera at a very young age.
When I realized that I could combine all of my interests via film, I started doing performative works for the camera and exhibiting them all over in Europe.
What has been your favorite project to date, and why?
One of my favorite projects is the one I am working on now, The America Series, which is a photographic survey of America in the same tradition as photographers in decades past — Evans, Frank, and Avedon. I hope to share a different point of view on the current face of America, as a woman photographer and as an immigrant.
I made two cross-country trips on a route influenced by America’s historic migration — one of hopes, dreams, and opportunities. Using an electric vehicle as a mobile portrait studio, I photographed people from all walks of life, at charging stations, hotels, restaurants, and everywhere along the way. I filmed the process, and the work will be published this spring. This experience really made me realize how each meeting reveals that there is more connecting us than dividing us.
Do you have any upcoming projects in the works?
Yes, The America Series, my first monograph will be published this fall by Damiani Books in Italy and I will spend the fall promoting the book.
I am also currently making a film about Marta Berglund, a family member of mine who was also a photographer. She was very active in Gotland and she left a huge archive about herself, her photographic vision, and how women are not being represented in the history of photography. It is an art-house documentary film that I am directing, produced by Anna J. Ljungmark from House of Real, and co-produced through my production company Attaché Productions, with support from the Swedish Film Institute and Film på Gotland.
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