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Lemonade_igloo_2007 Vanishing_traces_2006 Polar_bear_2007 Masmo__1_2004 Pentagon_2006 Wrapped_2007 Sweating_sweethearts Autocenter_installation_view Autocenter_detail
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Portrait_igloolik
Lemonade Igloo, Lemonade Igloo,
2007, photography, 120 x 150
© Scarlett Hooft Graafland
Vanishing Traces, Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland, Vanishing Traces,
2006, photography, 120 x 150
© S Hooft Graafland
Polar Bear, Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland, Polar Bear,
2007, photography, 120 x 150
© S Hooft Graafland
Masmo!1, Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland, Masmo!1,
2004, photography, 120 x 150
© S Hooft Graafland
Pentagon, Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland, Pentagon,
2006, photography, 120 x 150
© S Hooft Graafland
Wrapped, Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland, Wrapped,
2007, photography, 120 x 150
© S Hooft Graafland
Sweating Sweethearts 2, Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland, Sweating Sweethearts 2,
2004, photography, 120 x 150
© S Hooft Graafland
Instant Sculpture, Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland, Instant Sculpture,
2009, ceramics , 110 vases circa 30 x 20 cm
© S Hooft Graafland
Instant Sculpture, Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland, Instant Sculpture,
2009, ceramics , vases circa 30 x 20 cm
© S Hooft Graafland
Instant Sculpture, Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland, Instant Sculpture,
2009, ceramics , vases circa 30 x 20 cm
© S Hooft Graafland
Instant Sculpture, Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland, Instant Sculpture,
2009, ceramics , circa 20 x 30 cm
© S Hooft Graafland
Instant Sculpture, Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland, Instant Sculpture,
2009, ceramics , circa 20 x 30 cm
© S Hooft Graafland
Zwanen, Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland, Zwanen,
2010, 28.5 x 120 cm and 52 x 220 cm or as piezoprint 40.5 x 147.5 cm
© Courtesy of the Artist and Vous Etes Ici
Lemonade Igloo (detail), Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland,
Lemonade Igloo (detail), 2007
© Courtesy of the artist & Michael Hoppen Gallery, London
Vanishing Traces, Soft Horizons Series, Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland,
Vanishing Traces, Soft Horizons Series,
2006-2007
© Courtesy of the Artist and Huis Marseille
Polar Bear, Igloolik Series, Canada , Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland,
Polar Bear, Igloolik Series, Canada ,
2007-2008
© Courtesy of the Artist and Huis Marseille
Red Mill, Dutch Landscape Series , Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland,
Red Mill, Dutch Landscape Series , 2010
© Courtesy of the Artist and Huis Marseille
\'Balloon Line\', Bolivia , Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland,
'Balloon Line', Bolivia ,
2007 (performance with / met Gastón Ugalde
© Courtesy of the Artist and Huis Marseille
White, Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland, White,
2004 , C-type print, 120 x 120 cm
© Courtesy of the Artist and Flowers
Mothers of the Forest, Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland, Mothers of the Forest,
2012, c-print , 30 x 90 cm
© Courtesy of the Artist and Vous Etes Ici
Douze Douze Douze , Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland, Douze Douze Douze ,
2012 , c-print, 50 x 125 cm
© Courtesy of the artist and VOUS ETES ICI
, Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland
© Courtesy of the Artist and Vous Etes Ici
Turtle , Scarlett Hooft GraaflandScarlett Hooft Graafland, Turtle , 2013
© Courtesy of the Artist and Huis Marseille Museum voor Fotografie
In the work of Dutch artist Scarlett Hooft Graafland you find a combination of straight photographic practice with performance and sculpture in which she constantly refers to a more profound cultural discourse of her surroundings. She made extensive travels to various parts of the world to work on projects, such as in the highlands of Bolivia, the south of China, the arctic Canada and the Palestin...[more]


RackRoom
Interview with Scarlett Hooft Graafland

Jan. 2009 -  New York City Editor, Trong Gia Nguyen, speaks with New York-Amsterdam based artist Scarlett Hooft Graafland, who has shows up currently at Autocenter Berlin and Michael Hoppen Contemporary (London).


Trong Gia Nguyen: You have traveled a lot for your projects. How do you think photography as a medium connects and lends itself to this sense of exploration and "exoticism?"

Scarlett Hooft Graafland: At first, it was not my intention to become a photographer. I am trained as a sculptor, with a strong emphasis on site-specific sculpture and combining different kinds of untraditional sculptural materials. What I found exciting as a traveler is the fact that every thing at first is blank, when you arrive at a new place; the natural surroundings, the local culture, communities, and somehow you can respond to this freshness without boundaries. The exotic element can be a bit dangerous but I try to skirt this by creating situations that remove you from the expected and place you with the absurd. Also the fact that I live for longer periods with such communities helps me to lose some of the voyeuristic distance. It is important to me to feel connected to the people I work with, to understand certain parts of their way of living. For example I lived in Igloolik, a small Inuit settlement in northern Canada for a couple of months, traveled for weeks with a semi-nomadic family on their sled over the sea ice in search for food. This experience helped me a lot to understand the arctic reality of survival and gave room for thoughts and ideas.

TGN: Your work has a lot of connection to nature and the natural. Do you long for "simpler times?"

SHG: That is a big part of it. And the fact that I have been living in such crowded environments such as New York and Amsterdam might have some influence as well.

TGN: Your images of Bolivia are interventions within mother nature that add an element of human order to the composition, which has its own order as well. The constructions of spheres and salt hills add beauty to what is already beautiful. Do you prefer this kind of aesthetic as opposed to the grotesque or ugly, e.g. "urban?"

SHG: What I like about the spread out salt desert and other mountain areas of Bolivia is the immense space and the fact that there is hardly any point of reference to the ‘human world’. Pure nature. Human intervention is rare in these surroundings and by placing elements from *our world* in the landscape I create my own way of reinventing the space, asking questions about where we stand, how we relate to the landscape. I make some references to Land-Art but want to touch it in a light and casual way, don’t feel in the time we live in there is much room to ‘occupying land’.  It is true that it could become aesthetic, the beautiful scenery, sometimes a bit overwhelming, that can be problematic. It is not my intention to make a ‘beautiful’ photo, but just use the force and power of nature, what ever the outcome might be.

TGN: Was it difficult working in the arctic Canada? Did you live in those igloos?

SHG: At first, it was quite difficult to find your way in such a closed community, and in such harsh environments. The first weeks I mainly spend my time making contacts with hunters and reading about the region, the Inuit culture, etc. then slowly ideas started to develop. One is the building of a lemonade igloo, where I made big wooden boxes covered with plastic and filled them up with water and lemonade powder to produce orange blocks. It was my idea to combine the differences in generations in a place like Igloolik; where the young children live a more western life style, drinking pop and juices but hardly learn the survival skills any more, such as building igloos. I asked traditional elderly Inuit men to build an ice igloo out of the orange blocks and when it was all built, I gave orange juice inside the igloo to the young children. Like all the other inhabits of Igloolik, I also lived in a wooden house in the town, no one lives in igloos any more nowadays, only when they travel and have to stay the night on the land, a snow igloo is built.

TGN: Your current show at Autocenter Berlin comprises an installation of porcelain vases altered by firecrackers, and then there are those images of the everglades with the alligators. What is your relationship to these "dangerous things?"

SHG: It is true that there are sometimes elements of danger in my work. Also some of the locations I work with have this element, like the huge salt desert Uyuni in Bolivia and the icy arctic deserts, where you sometimes have to take risk to come to certain places. To me this ‘risk taking’ is a part my work, it makes me more aware of what I am trying to say, how I relate to the world as an artist. In China I thought it would be interesting to see if you could combine two traditional Chinese elements together; porcelain and fireworks. I did some research and found this area, Dehua, famous for the blanc-de-chine porcelain, the very fine ceramics in Fujian Province. I was very surprised to find out that blowing up a wet clay vase with firecrackers would give such fluent and surprising shapes! Almost like flowers. I stayed with a traditional potter family for a couple of weeks and we produced a whole ‘field’ of exploded vases. Even the local people from the village seemed to like the project, coming up with ideas about different kinds of fireworks, different shapes of the vase, etc. At Autocenter I placed the damaged vases in a big space, as if it is a field. The show is together with german sculptor Jan Bunnig, who has a massive earthy clay sculpture standing in the space, material taken by him self from a near by river. These two works inform eachother in an interesting way; both with a strong emphasis on experiment and traditional sculpture materials, one black muddy shape, the other shiny white glazed ceramics.


ArtSlant would like to thank Scarlett Hooft Graafland for her assistance in making this interview possible.

--Trong G. Nguyen

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