Enghoff’s Seven Years (2010) is a series of 29 images of individual, but not recognizable, women in the Danish landscape. Not only is the natural environment different in every image, but each woman is positioned in distinctive ways, and the perspective, angle and focus changes from one photo to the next. In one image, for instance, a woman lies face down on the lush green forest floor, photographed from a vertical position that excludes the horizon. Her hands and feet are bare, while her body is clothed and her head is veiled. The figure could be a body, and the place a crime scene. However, the photograph is slightly out of focus, which blurs the subject and renders the image more enigmatic and less detailed; it is less ‘evidential’ than a crime scene as it would be represented by police or journalistic photography. The caption reads: ‘Lebanese woman, 32 years old / No children / Family reunification in 2001 / Deported / 2010, status unknown.’ We are thus looking at a woman who is no longer present in Denmark. Similarly, ‘Turkish woman, 32 years old’, is the title of another photograph in which a woman is kneeling on a ground of brown fallen leaves. Her clothes are black and her face is turned away from the camera, which instead is drawn to the sunrays illuminating a patch of ground surrounding her body. The additional information about her reads: ‘Three children / Has been living in Denmark on a tourist visa since 1987 / 2010, Deported.’ What unites these anonymized, now deported women photographed in isolated positions?
Seven Years was conceived together with activist and independent integration advisor Uzma Ahmed Andresen (2010). The project focused on an overlooked and neglected community: migrant women who had come to Denmark through the Danish family reunification programme to be with their husbands (Danish citizens), who subsequently became physically or psychologically abusive. Seven Years refers to the ‘seven-year regulation’, which required a person to have resided in Denmark for seven years before being able to apply for residency. The women who participated in the project did not have a residency permit of their own, and were thus without access to the social rights granted people with permanent residency. This was a particularly serious problem in cases of domestic violence, where abusive husbands used the seven-year regulation as a form of control: if a woman left her legal partner before the seven years had passed, she faced the threat of being ‘illegalized’, and consequently losing her home and children. Ultimately, she would be deported. The combination of being women and non-Western exposed these immigrants to a double dose of discrimination by Danish society and legislation (Thorup, 2010, n.p.).
Excerpt from the text: Seeing through Scandinavian exceptionalism by Louise Wolthers in Journal of European Studies 47 (4) 1-20.
Threshold of Pain
Something is dismal and horrible in the state of Denmark. In Jutland, in North Zealand and Greater Copenhagen, on Funen and Langeland. The anonymous women in Tina Enghoff’s photographs and the seven of them who have spoken up in the printed interviews could very well be our neighbors in our suburban quarter or they may be right there on the other side of the wall in the adjacent apartment, where they are living in an everyday reality punctuated with an ongoing barrage of constant threats of physical and psychological abuse, with incessant verbal humiliation, with blows, kicks and the imminent possibility of being raped. We know they are there, but it is seldom that we are reminded of their existence. They live out there behind the horizon, relegated to a shadow existence in the obscurity of repression. For the most part, we forget all about them and their distressing tribulations and we live alongside them as black holes in our consciousness.
Excerpt from the foreword to Seven Years by Danish Writer Kirsten Thorup
© Tina Enghoff. All rights reserved.