The exhibition is comprised of long prints made of images that seem sewn together. Each print features one subject, but is made of various shots from slightly differing viewpoints. The photographs are both instinctively striking and unsettling because there is no frame of reference; it is unnatural to see something as though you are in several places at once.
But each one, in its total effect, is like seeing a memory.
There is a forest, but it is a forest as you might remember seeing it as a child, through various glimpses of the infinite limbs reaching down, looming and endless, with a strange shade of sky stretched out like heavy fabric behind them. The general effect is entrancing and eerie, turning a common sight into something both bizarre and stunning.
“I thought about my own experiences, or other people’s experiences and how they think about them afterwards,” Katrín says about the creation of this series, “…how you remember things in your head, or how you remember a certain day.”
These pieces also bring attention to the act of perceiving; they are, in essence, an elongated moment. They show seeing as it is, with several quick glances blurred over one another. There is no objective view of the scene, but a kind of movement with several splintered views.
At a time when everyone is Photoshop-happy, it is easy to assume that these pieces were created with some kind of digital experimentation. But it all happens within the plastic walls of Holga. “I took out the little box behind the shutter that usually dictates the shape of the photograph,” Katrín explains. The result is that there is no edge to the photograph, and no distinct shape where the light ends and border begins. “I only advance the film maybe one-quarter of the way after each picture, so the sides of each frame overlap as the film is exposed.”
“I definitely know what I’m looking for,” she explains, “and I kind of see how it will look in my mind as I shoot it, but there’s also a definite element of chance.” The side of each frame is permanently blended into the next as she shoots, so the finished product is chosen out of the entire strip of film. There is no touching up or rearranging.
The photographs also serve to give each moment its full attention, focusing on both the intricate details of an object or place, and the overall fragmented result of observation. Each instant of perception has made its own mark in comparison with the last, as the movement of time shows itself in the progression of the images.
Observing the nuances of an object, or noticing it in several ways at once, reminds us what a profound effect perspective has on the perception of our surroundings. This exhibition, for its unusual beauty and its absolute fluency, is not to be missed.
Katrín Elvarsdóttir’s exhibit “Memory” will be at Hafnarborg Institute of Culture and Fine Art until 20th September.