ACE & TATE MEETS | Kia Hartelius

Kia Hartelius is the Danish photographer who’s kicking off our very first 48-hour exhibition series at our temporary space in Copenhagen. Given the theme ‘it’s just a temporary thing’, Kia – whose work is raw, unconventional, humorous at times but never, ever boring – took the idea of beauty pageants and gave it her own ironic spin. Shining a light at the outrageousness of fake, temporary beauty, the result is five untouched, crude portraits of tragic, over-the-top female contestants. We had a chat with her about her work, life in Copenhagen and her favourite super-powers.

Words by Isabel van Zeller
Photography by Kia Hartelius

Can you explain the idea behind the work you’ve created for our temporary space in Copenhagen?
For most people, outer beauty is easily created by means of a temporary camouflage of creams, scents, ornaments, styles and various kinds of outer wrapping. Our vision is to put a spin on temporary outer beauty taken to extreme measures. Being temporary doesn’t make something matter any less, because the point isn’t for how long, the point is that it happened.

Kia H II

How would you describe your photography style, and who are some of your influences?
I’d describe my style as the opposite of boring. It’s okay if people don’t like it or think it’s too much, as long as it doesn’t bore them. Some words that I’d like my work to be associated with are: colorful, energetic, raw, humorous and unisex, rather than feminine. I tend to draw inspiration from people rather than other photographers. I really like characters, bold types and odd features. Pretty doesn’t interest me.

How has Copenhagen inspired your photography?
That’s a really good question. Hmm… I’m not sure if Copenhagen as a city really inspires me that much. I’m much more inspired when I travel. But the weather in Copenhagen has definitely forced me to get really comfortable working in a studio or indoor location. That’s all about lighting and technique, which I’m quite nerdy about.

Your favourite hang-out spot in Copenhagen?
My favourite hang-out-spot in Copenhagen is Assistens Kirkegården on Nørrebro. It’s a big cemetery/park where a lot of big Danish influencers are resting – poets, scientists and so on. I love it because it’s a quiet spot in the middle of bustling Copenhagen. This is where I go for a run, drink my Friday afternoon beer under the summer sun, or take a quiet stroll when it’s all covered in snow during winter.

Kia H V


If you could have a temporary super-power, what would it be?
You really want me to choose between all the most awesome superpowers that are available? Tough one! I very often dream that I can breathe under water, which is really cool. I also often dream that I can fly. Time flies and I’d love to slow it down once in a while. And teleportation is just fucking awesome. But to be more realistic, I think what would bring me most joy and satisfaction in life would be to be able to heal someone. That’s definitely number one.


Come by our Temporary Space at Gammel Mont 39 in Copenhagen this weekend to see the full exhibition!

Want your own exhibition? Check here and get in touch by sending us your creative idea!