Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia, is the world’s largest salt flat, spanning 10,582 square kilometres. The area – formed by evaporated prehistoric lakes – has become a kind of lost world, identified by an extreme uniformity and harsh natural beauty. As one of the most desolate yet visually mesmerising locations on earth, it provides a hypnotic setting for artistic endeavour.
This exceptional environment forms the backdrop for images in Scarlett Hooft Graafland’s (b. 1973) series Shores Like You, on display at In Focus Galerie, Cologne. An investigation into the fragility of the natural world takes the photographer to unique sites, including the beaches of Yemen, Madagascar, remote farm sheds in Iceland and the Dutch village of Gorinchem. Uncanny hyperreal scenes have been captured with just an analogue camera and natural light, crafting surreal, highly choreographed compositions devoid of digital manipulation.
A concern with the disappearance of traditional cultures and their mythologies pervades the artist’s practice. Through a close working relationship with inhabitants of local communities, Hooft Graafland records the intricacies of everyday life in these regions. Each piece – despite a magical and ethereal appearance – is deeply human, rooted in the social issues of the locale. Likened to tableaux from theatrical performances, the bold, colourful and inviting photographs are the result of weeks of preparation and rehearsal, creating permanent records of temporary acts.
Until 23 December. Find out more: www.infocusgalerie.de
1. Scarlett Hooft Graafland, Still Life with Camel, 2016. Courtesy Robert Morat Galerie.