The shed project (2008-2009)

July 13th, 2010 by Rebekka in Uncategorized

October 18th 2008 I went for a drive to Kleifarvatn lake (not for the first time and not for the last) in desperate need of some inspiration.  Taking a road I hadn’t driven down before, I came across an empty shed.  It was in such a state of disarray, I figured it couldn’t possibly be in use.  I also saw a great deal of potential in it, and after cleaning up most of the mess and pushing the moldy couch to one side, I happily decided to return as soon as possible and get to work transforming it into something more interesting than this:

it's a bit drafty, but offers an excellent view of the lake!

"i don't know honey. It's looks a bit drafty.."

before leaving, I shot both a sweater photo, and a doll photo. At the time, i was completely immersed in my doll series, and never left home without at least 2 dolls in the car.

I returned 2 days later armed with plastic sheeting, electricians tape, a hammer and some nails, and  contentedly set to work covering the windows, with a warm autumn sun looking in on me.  In my head, i had visions of making many different scenarious in this space, painting it in many different colors perhaps, for an intricate series, sure to blow everyones mind..

"this is gonna be so awesome!", she thought to herself..

"this is gonna be so awesome!" she thought to herself..

I was in such a good mood, I stopped to take this photo before leaving:

The same evening, a snowstorm hit (of course).  Not surprisingly, the Icelandic wind made a joke of my makeshift plastic window-covers.  When i returned the next day, (just managing to not get stuck in the snow) meaning to get to work with step two -painting the walls- I found one of the sheets in shreds.  The other was completely intact, but happened to be flapping from a fence a good distance from the shed.

this is what it looks like when Icelandic weather dares you to continue with a silly project..

this is what it looks like when Icelandic weather dares you to continue with a silly project..

Inside, things weren’t very encouraging either:



Having sensed this would happen, i refused to give up.  I had also (just in case) brought with me a bunch of narrow strips of wood. Gritting my teeth, I spent one of the most annoying hours of my life fighting the fierce wind to get the stupid plastic back into place, this time nailing the wooden strips over it, so it wouldn’t just rip right out from the nails again.  Having finally shut out most of the wind and cold again,  I did my best to paint half the shed a rather unattractive peach-pink shade (the only left-over paint i could find in my parents garage) , which would have been easier had the walls been dry..



I then went home, not really caring if the weather would crash the party again or not..

It continued to snow.. I was afraid to return, but on October 26th, I set out with a group of large white branches I had previously used for another series of photos, and my younger son tagging along.  When we reached the turn-off for the road to the shed,  the car promptly sunk into a foot of snow, and refused to go any further.  Even more unfortunately, it also refused to go back onto the main road.  Now, before I even had a chance to think about panicking, i saw a pair of headlights coming at us from the direction of the shed, and it turned out to be a much larger truck, driven by a pair of helpful scouts (no joke).  They not only got my car un-stuck,  they also drove me, my kid, the branches and camera gear all the way up to the shed (about 3 km) .  I of course left my hammer in the car.   But, being helpful scouts, they loaned me one ( scouts honor).  The weather was calm and pleasant, so I told them we’d just walk back, and thanked them for saving my project. (the probably drove off thinking i was insane, and wouldn’t have been too far off)

The plastic hadn’t held this time around either, ( I found some comfort tho, in the fact that i’d nailed it so well into place, that this time the top of the original window frame on the left fell down, plastic still clinging). Deciding to just accept that the weather would be a part of this project from now on,  I arranged the branches in the middle of the floor, and nailed them into place..

Then i arranged a large white sheet with a hole in the middle, around the trees, nailing it to the walls. I wasn’t really sure why, but it seemed like a good idea at the time..

oct. 26th 2008

Then we hiked back to the car, my son only complaining a little bit when i refused to carry his 9-year-old self along with my tripod and camera bag.

I then visited the shed on a regular basis, documenting how the weather shaped and changed the set-up:

November 4th, 2008

November 9th, 2008.

Finally, on January 10, 2009, I returned to shoot a self-portrait in the ravaged remains of my first-ever installation piece.

after editing, this was my favorite outcome from that shoot:

I told myself my mission was accomplished, but being the hopeless perfectionist i am, doubt soon set in. Finally admitting to myself that I wasn’t satisfied, I returned on March 11th.  Again, the road was impassable (this time due to thawing and deep mud), so I had to walk.   I reshot the scene, and was far more pleased with the result this time around:

Even getting a pretty good outtake:

Last time i drove up to this area, the shed had been torn, and my branches nowhere to be seen, making me even more grateful that I had the sense to document this process.

Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes posts from other projects in coming weeks..

Read 34 comments

34 comments for this post

Rebekka, this one has to be my favorite of the series.
Sensual and dramatic…

Thank you for sharing.


~ joel

Thanks you for this glimpse into the work that goes into your amazing shots. Just goes to show the gulf that separates the casual shot from the carefully planned and executed work of art. Sure, it isn’t always like that, but you’re in there doing it and that’s the difference. We all love you for it!

Gotta admire your stubborness and perfectionism that led to these wonderful pics. Congratulations!

This is really interesting Rebbekka. Initially I thought that this was just a random branch set up in a studio but now that I know it has been through all that it actually makes sense as an image. For me at least!
Really nice how you let it become affected by it’s surroundings over time. Mission accomplished indeed! :)
Keep up the great work!

It was a hard work and a good exercise of patience, but the final result is amazing. Congratulations.

The resulting photos are indeed wonderful and the progression of the project with its starts, stops and adjustments was certainly interesting to follow as well. Excellent work — thanks for sharing!

Thank you for sharing this journey with us Rebekka.

I don’t any words to express my feeling towards this picture. Thank you for sharing your hard work, dedication and story behind this. Now this picture talks a million stories. Love it.

Alexander wrote on July 14th, 2010

Rebekka, you are amazing. Thank you for sharing the story.

jordekorre wrote on July 14th, 2010

What a great story! Thanks for sharing it. Please continue to amaze us with your work!

Andrew wrote on July 14th, 2010

Very interesting…gives an insight into your dedication. The result was worth it!…well at least from my perspective.
Don’t say how you got the rope on your wrists though..

thank you so much for this insight of your work. it´s really fascinating to see the effort and time (!) you put into every piece of your work. No (sometimes-it-might-be-easier) photoshop-tricks. Thank you for that refreshing and also funnily written post.

Btw: I can´t stop to think about a potential owner of that shed.. If someone stopped by to see his (abandoned) shed strangely painted and decorated for some reason ;-) The existence of a potential owner and the possibility of his arrival would have given me a good scare, if I had been in your position, btw! :-)

hehe. the temptation to mess with this space overrode any such anxieties. I figured if an owner showed up, he’d simply dismantle my stuff and toss it out, end of story ;)
But those scouts assured me (once i’d reached that stage), that it was indeed abandoned, and had probably been built without a permit anyway.

(i forgot to say, those scouts actually had their own much larger cabin very close by, and spent a lot of time there fishing, so I was more than willing to just take their word for it)


Pei Pei wrote on July 15th, 2010

I just found your blog a few nights ago, and I read it all in one night!!! Thanks so much for sharing. Your work is very inspiring.

You are patient, aren’t you?

Thanks for the making-of story. Inspirational stuff. You never cease to amaze me. You did return the hammer, right? :-) Also: I guess you meant “torn down” near the end… I wonder by who.

This is fantastic, Rebekka. Love knowing how an idea turns into a reality. And I love the final outcome(s).

thank you for documenting this. i thoroughly enjoy knowing the backstory to every image i see. it’s what makes it real. knowing there are other people out there invested for the creativity and imagination of it this art and passion. thank you.

mamma mia, reb, this story is amazingly creative!
thank for inspiring me for some crazy stuff!

Ger Kirwan wrote on July 17th, 2010


I really admire your drive. You work extremely hard and its soo worth it! This is my favourite!

I love your work thanks for sharing details of the efforts and process needed to execute this image. Really interesting.

david wrote on July 18th, 2010

amazing story of vision and perseverance. the old question, “does a tree make a noise when it falls in the forest if no one is there to hear it?” comes to mind. is there a difference in viewing and interpreting art of any kind if you know something about the artist and/or process vs if you know nothing at all?

i think there is. thank you for sharing the struggle to achieve your vision. and, by the way, i think the tree does make a noise, but the human ability to appreciate it is lost if one is not there to hear it.

What a great story – I admire your determination!

I knew you’d used that shed for more than a couple of pictures but had no idea you’d gone back to it several times and in all sorts of weather. Your perfectionism is quite something.

I love this behind the scene construction and preparation. You are doing a lot of work to prepare excellent shots. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Great story! I loved your detailed account of this shoot. I would have never guessed that you used a shed for this image. What an eye opener!

Nice pictures…

Awesome story Rebekka. And great shots too. It is always great to hear the story behind a photo series :)

Your perseverance of this project is commendable. I think 99% of us would have just chucked it but you didn’t and your results are so worth it. Thanks for documenting the whole painful process, as it makes the result so much more enjoyable.

Nice story. Nice to hear how seemingly random thoughts and actions take shape and crystalise in a wonderfull picture.

I guess most people don’t realise how much time, effort, retries and setbacks a nice picture demands from us. I guess most people suppose you go there, take the picture and leave with a work of art. What they think is then reflected in the way the take pictures. Shoot a memory card full and wade thru all the takes, hoping that they had enough luck that day that they are granted a good shot.

Anyway, you think about your work and that shows.

If I had more money, I’d buy one of your sweaters ;-)

Kind regards,

Hi Rebekka,

I admire your work a lot.
Thanks for the inspiration.

This is documented very well.

you see the outcome of patiently taking your time to make the masterpies just as you want it.


[...] visual ideas and then describing them to the viewer on her blog. An interesting example is “The Shed Project” where she describes how she found an abandoned shed in the middle of nowhere and how her and [...]

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