All her life Mimi Josefsen has been searching for herself. “Who am I?” is a fundamental question most of us try to answer throughout our lives but for Mimi Josefsen this question has another depth. For many years she felt that something was not quite right with her. Something was off.
About 10 years ago, she fell into severe depression, and she explains how disconnected she felt from everything and herself. After many examinations, she was diagnosed with ‘Borderline’ in 2018.
“To get the diagnosis Borderline Personality Disorder, you need to have 5 out of 9 symptoms and have been living with the symptoms for at least a couple of years. It’s a psychological condition that can come from trauma. And I’ve had my share of traumas. My symptoms include a missing feeling of identity, the fear of being abandoned, and being a people pleaser – always there for everyone else, but never there for myself.”
I am where I’m supposed to be
In that period, she couldn’t sleep, and she started painting during the sleepless nights. She had never really been creative before, but this sparked something within her. She enrolled in the one-year art education programme at the Art School in Nuuk, and afterwards she applied for the Aarhus Art Academy and started in 2019. “Now I am where I’m supposed to be.”
Mimi Josefsen is born in Greenland, and as many Greenlanders she has a mixed background with Greenlandic, Danish, and Norwegian genes in the pool. When she was a child, she was teased by the other kids because she was light-skinned and had light-brown hair, and she felt like an outsider.
“Greenland is my trauma land. I didn’t feel at home until I came to Aarhus where I live now. Other people defined me when I lived there; I was not Greenlandic enough for them. I have spent many years trying to digest my experiences from Greenland. Only when I moved to Denmark, did I understand just how must of me is Greenlandic. I love Greenland, but I don’t miss it. It’s a weird feeling, but I could live anywhere.”
I paint to find out who I am
Greenland was also where she lived when she found out that her father had died. “I remember that day so clearly; I was playing by the apartment complex, Blok 3, where we lived in Nuuk. The sky was very blue, the way the sky is blue only in Greenland, and my mother called me to come up. I don’t remember her telling me that my father had died, but I remember the way the sky and the apartment complex looked that day. I’m trying to recreate it in a painting, but I’m having trouble mixing the right kind of blue. I will get there.”
Mimi Josefsen uses art to find out who she is
Through art, Mimi Josefsen explores who she really is, and for a long period of time she has painted self-portraits.
“I paint to find out who I am. Self-portraits have been my way of trying to discover who I really am. I don’t feel Greenlandic or Danish or Norwegian. I just feel human. For a long time I have used my art as a very private way of finding out why I feel the way I do, but recently I have opened up more, and I want to invite others in. I hope that other people can see themselves in some of my artwork. Art has saved me at some level. I don’t know where I would have been without art.”
MIMI X UJAMMI: Symbiose
Together with Greenlandic artist Ujammiugaq Møller, Mimi Josefsen exhibits artwork under the name MIMI X UJAMMI: Symbiose. The two artists have challenged each other to paint self-portraits in the style of famous artists such as Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo etc. They simply placed the names of the artists in a bowl and drew one name a month for a year.
The exhibition can be seen in the Greenlandic House in Aarhus until 25 November 2022 when it moves to Nuuk.
See more of Mimi Josefsen’s artwork and follow her on Instagram: @Gracefullyinsane
Watch Mimi Josefsen talk about some of her work for the exhibition below: