EVA MERZ, born 1966, lives and works in Esbjerg, Denmark.
Merz is is a photography-based visual artist as well as a writer, editor, designer and publisher. Her work is based on a social practice, which includes engaging and collaborating with people from various backgrounds. Taking the approach of an anthropologist she emerges into unfamiliar communities with a methodology signified by participant observation, informal interviews, collective discussions, analyses of personal documents and life-stories. Her research strategies aim to gain a close familiarity with the individuals that she works with. Her focus covers both the specific: the life of the individual person, and the common: human condition in a wider social and political context. She places herself in the field between a documentary and conceptual arts practice.
Merz was trained as an advertising artist in her hometown before she moved to Norway to attend an art course at the Nansen Academy in Lillehammer and later work in a drug-rehab collective. In 1992 she moved to Copenhagen for an extended course at Fatamorgana, a school of photography. Two years later she joined the ‘Walk for Justice’, a 3,800 miles spiritual walk across the US, led by American Indian Movement. Returning to Copenhagen she worked at a fish market for a couple of years and later started teaching photography, while keeping up a part-time arts practice, including book projects and exhibitions in Denmark and abroad.
Moving to Scotland in 2003 for a six-months artist residency, which turned into an extended stay of eight years, in Aberdeen and Glasgow respectively, she started publishing interviews, organising public events, making street art and exhibiting. She got involved with other artists, skateboarders and street people. In 2004 she founded Aberdeen Street Skaters and the New Social Art School grew out of this initial collaboration.
From 2004 to 2010 Merz was the director of New Social Art School, a collaborative arts movement, consisting of people from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds. Their projects were informed by local politics and social issues. Through various productions, including photography, video, public events, street art, activism and publications, they intended to communicate issues of common interest directly to the public, hoping to encourage others to take part in the social and political debate and thus renew participation in and understanding of the arts.
In 2011, twenty years after she first left, Merz returned to her hometown, to live and continue her practice as a socially engaged artist and photographer. Since 2013 she has worked in and around a social housing area and, after completing a public mural project in collaboration with local residents, she emerged on a long-term photography project which culminated in the exhibition and publication ‘Gammel Vardevej – indefra’. She continues working at Gammel Vardevej…