Where the Wild Things Are

by articulatenyc

Simen Johan. Untitled #159, 2010. From the series Until the Kingdom Comes. Digital C-print. © Simen Johan, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

In honor of the American-Scandinavian Foundation Fellowship Program’s 100th Anniversary, Scandinavia House presents Unnatural Formations. The exhibition features the photography of Stephen Hilyard, Simen Johan, and Lydia Anne McCarthy, who were each recent recipients of the grant. The photographs all feature majestic, breath-taking Nordic landscapes which have in some way or another been manipulated by the artist in an effort to blur the lines between the natural and the man-made. Stephen Hilyard’s light box photographs, for instance, feature images of craggy, formidable mountains beneath  a seemingly supernatural skyline. After speaking with the artist, however, I learned that these photographs were not taken high above sea-level, but rather far below it. Hilyard used images that he took while deep-sea diving and then digitally paired them with other images that he took of the Nordic sky.

The works that I found to be the most striking, though, were the stark, icy photographs of Simen Johan. The pieces simultaneously capture the cruelty, beauty, and Romanticism of nature through the juxtaposition of non-native wildlife with sweeping Scandinavian landscapes.

For some unexplained reason these images evoked some visceral, Chris McCandless-esque reaction in me, causing me to long for a personal, intrepid encounter with nature. Though I don’t anticipate unleashing my inner Katniss in the Scandinavian wilderness anytime soon, I found this exhibition to be a welcome reminder of the grandeur, mystery and splendor of nature.

Unnatural Formations: Three Contemporary Photographers is on view at Scandinavia House through June 30, 2012

Image provided courtesy of Scandinavia House

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