Q&A with Thorbjørn Uldam
photo by Regina Antal
Where are you from?
I come from Denmark, where I grew up in a small town called Ejby, close to Køge. It’s deep in the country side, close to forest, farmers and neighboring an ostrich farm. Since 2010 I have been living in Berlin, where I moved right after I finished my studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Art in Antwerpen.
What do you do?
Im currently living between Berlin and Warsaw, where I respectively work as a teacher lecturing fashion design; in Berlin I guide the graduate students, and in Poland the first year students.
Parallel to my work as a teacher I run my own label, TULDAM, presenting collections once a year.
What is the best part of your day?
The best part of the day, without any doubt, is having a cup of coffee after waking up. I’m terribly addicted to coffee, I have actually been drinking it since I was three years old, however irresponsible that may sound.
What is the worst part of your day?
There are undoubtedly annoying things that might come my way, but I can not point out what specifically, would be the worst part of my day. Apart from not being able to have my coffee in the morning of course, haha.
Tell us about the first time you experienced or saw something very fashionable.
I didn’t grow up close to fashion in any way. I always had an interest in clothes and dressing, but it wasn’t until I moved to Barcelona after finishing high school that I was directly confronted with fashion. I was seeing a photographer at that time that through his job introduced me to the local fashion scene, and from there my attention grew and developed.
I had the opportunity to experience early Raf Simons and Martin Margiela pieces that made me understand that there was another less mainstream, less glorifying, but more grounded and real scene for fashion. With Raf’s devotion to subcultures and Margiela’s explorations, which both in each their ways challenged the act of dressing, I quickly got more interested and involved.
I worked for Gloria Rodriguez Figueroa and Joseb Abril before I got accepted to the academy in Antwerpen. I’m very happy I already had experience with the industry before starting to study. The “Antwerp Experience” can be very traumatizing. You need to have “bones in your nose” to be able to experience and withstand it.
Who/what are your influences?
David Lynch, Mozart, HC Andersen and the Mass Media.
David Lynch because he mesmerized me with “Twin Peaks”. Things can be understood without having a direct meaning. Its all a self projection and self reflection, when we attempt to interpretive realities that are presented to us.
Mozart, because of his sensitivity. The most incredible piece of music that exist is his “Requiem”. I used to sing in the Danish Boys Choir when I was a kid and singing the songs of Mozart is a particular experience. Music has had a huge influence in my life, firstly because my family (on my fathers side) was very involved in music. I played piano when I was a kid, but singing brought me many places all over the world and the voice of a boy is pure, penetrating innocence when you listen to it.
HC Andersen, the Danish writer, because of his tales that were a big part of my childhood, which can be seen and understood by both adults and children. His most beautiful tale is “the story about a mother”, incredibly dramatic yet beautiful, its pure nostalgia.
And finally the Mass media because I come from a generation where we interpreted TV commercials as naive beings and idealized them. There was also very little regulation and understanding for the influence it could have on children. But also the internet, however silly this may sound, I was a student when it appeared and suddenly you had access to a never-ending source of information. It was overwhelming, I still don’t know how to control or handle it. I feel this way also about the manipulated image too, I think my generation take 2-Dimensional reproductions for granted and we don’t trust them. Its unreal, fake, even though it might not be the case. They don’t create memories even though they attempt to, they have lost their potential for resonance. Images stigmatize reality.
Favorite book, film, song?
Blindness by Jose Saramago, “Blue Velvet” by David Lynch, and “Requiem” by Mozart
Why the images of hands intermixed with your collection?
My last collection was based in an imaginary scenario where a series of ancient Kings once again will unite. This would evoke the lost primitive instinct in manhood. I researched cave art and cave paintings, in particular those of the Chauvet Cave in the south of France. The simple handprint on the cold lifeless stone I find absolutely fascinating. This direct confrontation, human to human but spread over 10.000 years is purely symbolic. It’s there, red, made by a being that was somehow like us, yet his surrounding was so different. We struggle for self realization, he struggles for survival. Evolution is fascinating. I got hooked on images of the hand, with the hand as the absolute protagonist of the image. Its a part of our body we explore with, sensitivity comes from the tactile experience of exploring, our eyes are an overly saturated medium for exploring. As I said before, we take things for granted, we don’t trust. The eye betrays us. I have a complex relationship with my eyes. The hand I trust. It follows me wherever I go, also in the darkness.
What do hands mean to you?
Hands mean a lot, they are everything on which I base myself and with which I communicate when I don’t use my voice or my eyes. Its an intimate medium for communication.
Do you have a secret crush?
Yes I do. But I prefer not to talk about it.
Explore more of Thor and his collection TULDAM here.