Norwegian-Finnish artist duo Karoline Hjorth and Riitta Ikonen bring a folklore-inspired vision to the relationship between humans and nature. The majority of their subjects are elders who often have a deeper connection to the lands they inhabit, work on, or cultivate.
In 2011, the pair started an imaginative series called Eyes as Big as Plates as a contemporary exploration of characters from Nordic folklore. Their photographic odyssey across 15 countries and creation of more than 100 portraits evolved into a general exploration of modern humans’ relationships to nature. The title of the series not only comes from a folktale but also represents the curiosity that guides the way Hjorth and Ikonen interact with the world.
Each photograph features a solitary figure in a landscape wearing a sculpture of the natural elements of their choosing. For example, Brit (above), a ceramic artist, is shown plastered to a rock with the blue clay that underlies much of her hometown in Norway. Bob (below), a retired fashion photography expert, wears a giant hat and coat of pine needles while sitting in Forest Park in Queens, New York.
Hjorth and Ikonen consider their subjects to be integral parts of their artistic practice, and in doing so, refer to them as collaborators rather than models. The two artists exude a natural, almost magical excitement for people and life. This is key to not only finding and connecting with the people in their photographs but also to convincing them to immerse themselves in the wonders of a landscape.
This ultimate harmony is the result of a long process of preparing for and setting up the photo shoot. Materials such as moss, bull kelp, puffball mushrooms, and millet must be gathered and assembled into what amounts to a wearable sculpture. The strangest materials they tell Colossal include “sea urchins and starfish. And there was the time we collected a whole load of Rhododendron tomentosum (marsh Labrador tea) while in the very north of Norway, luckily the intense smell made us look the plant up in more detail before engulfing our collaborator in its poisonous terpenes. Collecting wearable-sized-icebergs in Greenland was one of those moments that we both remember vividly also!”
On-site, Hjorth and Ikonen shoot with analog cameras on film. The process also can be long and challenging for the collaborator, who sometimes is wearing a delicate sculpture of itchy twigs or kneeling for hours in wet moss, not to mention dealing the variable conditions—wind, rain, sleet, and dense fog—that the environment throws at them day-to-day. The end result is a portrait of a subject who exudes a playful confidence as they are one with the landscape.
As for the future, the duo shares their vision with Colossal. “We are open to working with all curious souls and as we re-angle ourselves to looking at the effects of climate change and our role in it. The intergenerational movers and shakers exist in all demographics across ages!”
Hjorth and Ikonen currently are working on Eyes as Big as Plates Vol. 2, which they are attempting to fund via Kickstarter before March 15. Follow their fascinating journeys around the world on both Karoline’s and Riitta’s Instagrams and their growing project Eyes as Big as Plates.
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Shot at an elevation nearing 10,000 feet in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, a series of images by Eric Gross capture a high-alpine lake covered in icy ridges and dips that mimic sleek waves. The Colorado-based photographer tells Colossal that local experts believe the phenomenon is caused by snowdrifts blowing onto the already frozen lake, melting there, and then refreezing. “Through multiple melt/freeze cycles and after periods of high winds, the mounds and divots are shaped into deep curves, sometimes with sharp ridges and lines that give the appearance of regular lake waves, frozen in time,” Gross says. “Composing images from ground level revealed that the dark ice waves exhibit psychedelic reflections of the surrounding mountainous landscape.” To see more of the photographer’s phenomenological works, head to Instagram.
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While many Americans were enjoying a few days off of work for the Thanksgiving holiday, Curiosity Mars Rover (previously) was busy taking more than 1,000 photographs of the Red Planet. Capturing the Glen Torridon region on the side of Mount Sharp, the rover shot enough images to create a composite that totals 1.8 billion pixels and provides its most expansive view to date of Mars’ landscape.
NASA released a video that points out the various landmarks and proves just how impressive the shot is, like the incredible detail that’s visible on a three-mile wide crater at least twenty miles away. The rover shot the panorama using a camera attached to its mast that has both telephoto and medium-angle lenses. In order to ensure lighting consistency, it only took images between 12 and 2 p.m. each day. Explore the panorama for yourself on NASA’s site. (via Uncrate)
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Typically known for their care-free attitudes, the dogs in Elke Vogelsang’s portraits are experiencing some of their more intense moments of canine anticipation, like waiting for a taste of bacon cream or finding the right time to snatch a squeaky toy. The Hildesheim, Germany-based photographer captures the canine’s fleeting expressions, shown through tilting heads, open-mouthed smiles, and wide-eyed stares. Each piece is matched with an equally playful title, like “The Dog Side of the Force” and “Bessy Muppetational.”
Vogelsang began photographing her three rescue dogs during a period of family hardship that started in 2009—she was charged with caring for her mother-in-law, who was suffering from dementia, shortly before her husband was in a coma due to a ruptured aneurysm. “I decided to start the project, despite my husband being in the hospital, or rather because of it, as I wanted to try to keep up a bit of normality and have something like a visual diary for my husband of that time,” she tells Colossal.
Now, the photographer’s work has expanded beyond the absurd images of her furry family members, and she tries to “get to know as many dogs as possible. Each and every one of them will have their own personality.” She’s traveled to Morocco and Spain to capture the lives of those living in shelters and on the streets, which has posed unique challenges. She “had to document whatever I was presented with. I couldn’t throw treats or get out a squeaker. Here I have to learn to wait for the decisive moment…These dogs had lived on the streets and didn’t know any basic commands. Those can be very difficult to photograph. ”
In order to get such revealing shots, Vogelsang isn’t afraid to appeal to their canine desires. “With every dog I learn a new trick. The energetic terrier might need action to really enjoy the session, while the sensitive sighthound might prefer a very calm environment and some super treats,” she writes. “The key is patience, trust, repetition and lots and lots of bribery.”
To see more of Vogelsang’s posing pups, head to her Instagram.
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Utilizing the reflections on soaring buildings, Seattle-based photographer Navid Baraty (previously) frames New York City in sections of just a few blocks. Although the traffic-packed streets and countless windows on high-rises can be seen from the ground, Baraty’s aerial shots in his ongoing Hidden City II series provide a distinct look at the area’s density and compactedness. “Most of our perceptions of cities involve us walking the busy streets and staring up at the towering skyscrapers above,” he writes. “With my series, I wanted to offer an altered and at times almost surreal perspective on the familiar streets that us city-dwellers drive and walk on each day.”
Baraty tells Colossal that his cityscapes often remind him of scenes from Interstellar or Inception. They “capture reflections of these hidden realities that exist high above the streets below. I couldn’t believe the first time I saw how much of a city can be seen reflected along the sides of skyscrapers from on high. It really felt as though I’d discovered some sort of hidden dimension,” he said. To keep up with Baraty’s perspective-altering photographs, head to Instagram and Behance.
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A log in Pennsylvania has gotten a lot of foot—and talon and paw—traffic during the last year. In trail camera footage captured by photographer Robert Bush Sr., local wildlife is shown crossing the downed tree throughout 2018 and 2019. A black bear frequents the location, in addition to grouse, bobcats, deer, squirrels, and beavers, which all are caught scurrying over the log or wading through the water. Despite their regular visits, though, none of the species seem to run into each other. For more clips of the animals’ travel routines, head to Bush’s Facebook and YouTube pages. (via Laughing Squid)
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Working alongside the Photography Collections Preservation Project, the Library of Congress recently announced that it has acquired nearly 100,000 photographs, negatives, and transparencies by Harlem-based African American photographer Shawn Walker. Depicting the rich culture of the New York City neighborhood, the collection spans nearly six decades from the 1960s to the present and is the first comprehensive archive of an African American photographer to join the national library.
Walker also donated a 2,500-piece collection of audio recordings, images, and ephemera representing the Kamoinge Workshop, a collective of Black photographers established in 1963. Self-identifying as a “fine arts photographer with a documentary foundation,” Walker was born and raised in Harlem and has worked to capture the neighborhood as he sees it.
“I look for the truth within the image, the multi-layers of existence and the ironies in our everyday lives,” he said in a statement to PCPP. “Working from a Black Aesthetic, my work tries to speak to everyone. For more than 50 years, I have tried to reflect on the positive aspects of my community and to see the relationships between various communities of color.”
“We are very pleased to celebrate the addition of these two important collections to the Library’s extensive representation of African American life in the United States, from photography’s earliest formats to the present day,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement. The New York Times reports that once organized, Walker’s archive will be made available to view via appointment. Some of his photography along with works by 14 other Kamoinge Workshop members will also be exhibited this summer (July-October 2020) at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
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