Born in Norway and moved to Sweden when she was 3 years old, Dorothea Barth Jörgensen was raised on the outskirts of Stockholm. She won the Elite modeling competition at the age of 16, moved to New York City a year later, and first appeared on the fashion scene in the BCBG Max Azria show in February 2009. During the same season, she walked for Calvin Klein, Jonathan Saunders, Marc Jacobs and Proenza Schouler. Since then, she has worked for many fashion labels including Chanel, Prada, Valentino, Donna Karan and opened for Yohji Yamamoto at the New York Fashion Week last February. Jorgensen is the epitome of the New York artist, fishing for her next line and reeling in the next roll of film while on a perpetual quest for inspiration. An effortlessly stylish photographer, blogger, artist and model, she opens up to The GROUND about her artistic talents, living in New York City, and her ambitions of becoming the next Cate Blanchett.
Did you expect to win the Elite Modeling Competition five years ago?
No, never. I don’t see myself as a model. I was actually very surprised that I won. I’m very glad, and it was a cool experience. They scouted me at H&M in Stockholm, and I didn’t know I was actually in the competition until they told me that they wanted me to participate. So I said, “ok, I’ll do that.” And then I won.
What was moving to New York like? Was it a difficult transition?
No. Something about New York just made me feel very at home right away. Of course family is important and I miss them, but the distance is also nice, you get to appreciate them even more. I need to grow up at some point, and moving away from home is a good start. I created a new family here – friends. It seems like New York is a place for people who want to achieve something, escape from home to fulfill their dreams. Everyone who’s here has some sort of passion or goal in life.
What is your daily routine outside modeling? What do you do for fun?
When I have time off, I am practicing yoga, going to acting school, and trying to collect my thoughts through writing. Once in a while, I would gather some friends together for a cooking/movie evening, where delicious raw and vegan food is on the menu!
I love to go to the theater, or concerts. I appreciate live performances, because of the unique moments that make you experience intimacy and imperfection, which is way more interesting to me than a perfectly controlled digital piece.
Why did you decide to start a blog? Why did you name it the way you did?
A friend and I were sitting in my living room, joking around and making fun of the blog industry. We thought we should try it and see what it’s like; it was just a little joke at first, but then I found it to be really nice. It’s a great place to reach out to people and share. It became a bigger project than I thought it would be.
My blog is called Displaced Bones; I like displaced things. Whatever you do comes from yourself, but you’re always affected by what’s around you, whether you are aware of it or not. I embrace things around me, and try not to take then for granted. I always try to observe in a new way, as if it was the first time I’ve ever experienced it, with a pure eye, and that is great to play around with. Blogging is one way of letting it all out.
You also started to dabble in photography; can you tell me how that came about?
Well, I wanted to photograph my mom, to see how it feels to photograph someone who has raised you. So, we went out to the forest in Sweden and I started shooting; she opened up in a different way from how I usually see her. I loved the pictures, and since then, understood the power of photography. It’s a face to face meeting but with a third perspective.
As soon as you get a camera in a room, people start to be very self-aware – they suddenly imagine themselves in another person’s eye. The power of the camera is incredible, it’s like the human being wants to please it. They give their soul to it, or transform into a character as far away from themselves as possible, depending on their personalities. It is a challenge, to really find the pure, the space for vulnerability, the trust and lust for sharing.
You can create and capture moments. I love how you can focus on something that you normally wouldn’t appreciate or see, give it some space – you can choose how to see the moments.
Your photography reminds me of a mix between Sally Mann and Sarah Moon. Working with a myriad of photographers, who are the ones that inspire you most and why?
You are right. I might be influenced by Sally Mann. Her photographs were one of the first that really affected me. I found her very connected with nature and beauty, but it’s more than that, her pictures are full of hidden conflicts. She’s capturing atmospheres full of contrasts. I like it when you get affected but you can’t really put your finger on why. It is touching something deeper than the intellect, the subconscious.
Are you working on any photographic series that you would like to share with us?
I am working on a series of backs. I find backs to be one of the most expressively, beautiful part of the body. It’s our shelter that protects us from external stress.
Besides photography, you have a natural talent in traditional media such as drawing, painting and poetry as well. Does that run in the family?
My family is very spiritual; they approach life with a very artistic eye. But they never crafted it professionally. My step mom on the other hand, was an artist and always created art, mostly paintings. She has influenced me a lot.
Can you tell us a bit more on how you approach the topics and the source of inspiration in your artwork? Is there a focused subject or is it just purely abstract?
People subconsciously change themselves if they are too focused on the end result. For my creative process, I hardly know when I start out what it will turn out to be – It’s often based on instinct. I like the spontaneity of letting your true self speak, without thinking too much about the intellect. Dreams affect me a lot. I get a lot of ideas from them. I want my painting to be about the process and not the result. Whenever I get inspired, new thoughts grow and grow… it’s a very interesting and fun process.
You are indeed a Renaissance woman! How do you balance school, modeling, and your private life?
It’s about choices; you really have to sit down, make choices, and prioritize. I haven’t been the best with that lately, but I’m trying to be honest with myself and what I really want, not what everyone else wants me to do or be. It’s scary because you really have to undertake all the responsibility, and not get lost in all the possibilities that the city brings.
How did you celebrate your 21st birthday recently?
I was actually very busy this year. I’ve been auditioning for a movie, and I got a call back, so I spent all my time getting into character and figuring out the details of my roles, trying to memorize and play around with them. During the evening, I got a couple of friends together and we had dinner, just a simple little gathering in Williamsburg.
I just started acting school this summer, and it’s so much fun. It’s something I get energy from and give energy to. It’s kind of like understanding the physiology in life in a way, and the connection between people. You jump into this space where everything can happen, and everything is aloud, you are free. You can play and lose all your inhibitions.
Do you have a favorite actor or actress?
I really like Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Al Pacino, and Ryan Gosling. They are such strong people, great personalities. There’s also a great sense of truth in their work. They allow themselves to embody all different characters and that makes them so alive. It’s all just fascinating to me.
THE GROUND ISSUE #2