Nikolaj Larsen

Nikolaj Larsen  –  Portrait of A River

The video work ‘Portrait of a River’ weaves together fragments and traces of the people and the places that define the character of the Thames Estuary. The work consists of several self-contained video-chapters that are played back in a random order.



Freed from the constraints of having to fit the footage into a narrative, Larsen’s chapters depict places and communities living and working on the river. It also dives into the history of the Thames and its transformation from being an incredibly busy industrial river with several working ports, to the river we know today. The chapters in ‘Portrait of a River’ have a duration of between 40 seconds and six minutes and the clips are played in a random order generated by a computer which gives the viewer a different experience every time it is watched. 



Each chapter conveys its own story that is told through beautiful cinematography (Jonas Mortensen), a carefully crafted sound track (Mikkel H. Eriksen), and video editing (Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen). Some clips are based on interviews, while others are recorded impressions of what the artist finds when he is working on location with his cameraman:  an oil drum stuck on the southern riverbank by the monumental Dartford Bridge, the launch of a river boat from a dry dock in Gravesend, 8 military helicopters following the twists and turns of the Thames. Sailing Barge Master Tom Cook briefly sums up his version of the history of the Upper Pool of the Thames whilst pointing places out on a navigational chart, and Captain John Potter talks about the tradition of Watermen working on the Thames.



‘Portrait of a River’ is a visual document that portrays the River Thames as a living, breathing river that always was and still is transformed to adapt to the development of the surrounding world.