Skall Letter No. 41
Emma Rosenzweig – Escapism
Before we did this letter, we had many ideas for the angle. Because former model, opinion maker, writer, it girl and artist Emma Rosenzweig is not afraid to share her opinion and speak out loud which is why many people already have an opinion about her.
Emma loves to explore different aspects of her personality. On her Instagram profile you will one day see her perform as a caricatured Nicole Kidman wearing a wig with red corkscrew curls, the next as a sad Pierrot with a big red smile or in her kitchen without any clothes on. She has many faces. For this reason, we will not try to define her. By the way she hates when people try to categorize her. Nor will we try to make a full portrait. We will leave that to others. Instead, we will talk to her about her writing. Because this is what she does the most, she says when we meet her in her small studio in the heart of Nørrebro in Copenhagen.
Emma has always enjoyed writing:
“When I was a child, I did a lot of reading and writing, and I have always kept a diary. Back then I thought that it was something that everyone did. As an adult I put it behind, but within the last 5-6 years the urge to write has been reestablished as I started to study art. As a way to express myself on a more regular basis and because I could do so without involving anyone else. To me writing is escapism. A way to escape from reality. It is like running away from something while it keeps in front of me. When you work with film, it is such a long journey compared to writing an essay for instance. Writing smaller pieces is like exorcism to me. And I need that once in a while.”
“I often read my texts and get surprised. I think it has become a way to analyze myself. It is
not something I do intentionally, but somehow it works for me,” says Emma who studies film, photography and performance at Art Academy Frankfurt while also writing on a movie supported by The Danish Film Institute. Her biggest dream, as she says.
So writing is also a way to work on some personal issues?
“Yes, definitely. You can write in a private way or in a personal way, and there is a great difference. I write in a personal way but not in a private. However, it does not mean that it cannot be intimate, because I often write something that I would never have said out loud. Writing makes it possible for me to express some things that are hard for me to communicate verbally. In fact, it makes me feel better.”
To Emma it is also a great advantage that she can control the story herself:
“Basically, you can go anywhere with words. I can write about an unpleasant experience and wrap it in a good story. You may be able to find some beauty in something that has hurt you. Sometimes dream and reality can merge. When writing you can decide yourself how much is the truth and how much is fiction. To me, writing is like dreaming with one eye turned towards dreamland while the other eye looks at the real world.”
So, can text be healing? Both for the one writing and for the one reading?
“To me it can. I can also read something that touches me without being able to relate to it. I don’t believe that you need to relate to a subject to be touched. In fact, most of the characters I respond to are rather blunt.”
The classic approach is that the recipient should be able to recognize him or herself?
“Well, I don’t believe in that. I believe that it is important that the writer has an interest in what he or she is writing. Then there is a possibility that the recipient will be interested as well. Maybe you can recognize something, but it does not necessarily need to be yourself.”
You immediately feel that Emma has a strong voice, and we are fascinated by her sincerity and
welcoming nature. How would she like to use her voice?
“I don’t know what I would like to pass on and I don’t want to put so much effort into this considering this. Having said so, I hope that everyone who will read my texts or see my artwork, will get something different out of it. Whether this is something good or something bad. Off course I feel that I have a responsibility on social media, and I think about what I share. For instance, I will never be like a store or company on Instagram. Because I am a human being. And I certainly do not see myself as an idol, even though I know that many young girls follow my life on social media. Writing is not a charity thing and because I feel that I owe the world anything, because I don’t. I am grateful to be alive and I am aware of that I am privileged in many ways. With this comes responsibility. However, I think it is primarily in the real life that I have to take this responsibility. My writing is mostly a reflection of my personality. I am not a happy person all the time and I am not telling myself that I did well when I pass a window and see a reflection of myself. I am far more tough on myself, I find many things difficult, and I think way too much. Sometimes I get a headache and are not able to fall asleep because I can’t let go of my thoughts. In a way it has always felt like a curse but the older I get I can see that I can use it in my work. I don’t have an idea about that my life needs to be perfect. Because it has never been,” she says honestly and with a self-ironic smile.
In fact, Emma has an urge to write about imperfection:
“I think it is extremely unflattering when people strive to look perfect. If you don’t make mistakes or recognize that you make mistakes, I believe you are not developing yourself. I think it is important to seek challenges and not to be afraid of making mistakes. To dare to go into the darkness and stay there for a while and see what you will find. Suddenly you will maybe find yourself in an amusement park, created by your own imagination. Some of the amusements are almost falling apart because they are old, while a pink shiny ferriswheel is spinning around. Right there, in the middle sits a human being who is a mix of someone you once loved but hate today and someone you have invented yourself. I won’t teach my children that perfection is the way forward. If so, you learn them that it is only safe when you do everything the right way – and life is not like that.”
When you take a closer look around in her small studio, you sense that she is very attached to the childhood universe. On the pinboard behind her desk hang several small advertisement posters for porcelain dolls. Perfect and scary dolls with stiff smiles. Small beauty queens with bows in the hair and pearls around their neck. On her shelf you will also find several makeup heads. Those ones you can place on the table.
“I have a fascination for those who are not able to speak. Those who are hidden away. I think this is closely related to my years as a model where I felt that I was treated as a thing. Not as a human being. This time in my life has been extremely unhealthy for me. Maybe I will do a story about these dolls at some point. Who knows,” she says and adds that her urge to write is also related to her former model career where it was all about her look and not her inner values.
“I respect this field as well as I respect sex workers and other people who work with their body. Modelling was not the right thing for me. However, it is part of my life and who I am today. As an adult I have also experienced to be ignored and to be treated as if I was not there. It creates an inner anger that can take place in your mind if you do not know how to control it. Writing is my way to take control over the pain while I look it straight into the eyes and laugh at it. Even though I am mostly a smiling person, I am also quite melancholic and often feel disconnected to my close surroundings. When writing, it almost feels as if I have someone by my side. A creature that I have created myself. It makes me feel less alone.”
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