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SVALA’S SAGA

EMMA POWELL AND KIRSTEN HOVING


SVALA’S SAGA

EMMA POWELL AND KIRSTEN HOVING


Svala’s Saga is a photographic fairy tale that addresses the issue of species extinction. Our character, Svala, is confronted with a sudden loss of the world’s birds. As the Earth heats and cools, she journeys through the wilderness searching for the last remaining eggs. By drawing on the archetypal motif of the quest, we hope to suggest that a lone individual can make a difference through perseverance and determination. These images are printed using the platinum/palladium process over digital color. On a cold, gray day, Svala no longer heard the birds. They all had disappeared. She searched throughout the land, but only broken shells and empty nests remained. As winters and summers passed, Svala consulted oracles and interpreted dreams. The message was always the same: it was her destiny to rescue the birds. She bid farewell to home and hearth, then set out across the world on her quest. As mother (Kirsten) and daughter (Emma) we have been working on informal art projects for many years. In 2013 we decided to create a truly collaborative photographic series. This project was realized after two trips to Iceland together. Emma Powell is an assistant professor of art at Colorado College. Powell graduated from the College of Wooster, and received her MFA in photography from Rochester Institute of Technology. Her work often examines photography’s history while incorporating historic processes and other devices within the imagery. Kirsten Hoving is a Charles A. Dana Professory of Art History at Middlebury College. Twelve years ago, she took her first photography workshop to help her be a better scholar and teacher of photographic history and she was hooked. In between writing books and articles and teaching courses about modern art and the history of photography at Middlebury College, she makes photographs. She is co-founder of PhotoPlace Gallery.


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Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving, Svala’s Saga Featured at the Lionheart Gallery New Exhibition opens on September 9, 2016 through November 1, 2016 Pound Ridge, New York: TThe Lionheart Gallery is pleased to announce a new photography exhibition opening in September. Svala’s Saga is a collection of prints by Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving, who like all Lionheart Gallery photographers employ alternative processes in their practice. Shot in Iceland, these timeless yet contemporary images approach climate change and extinction with a starkly elegant eye. Visitors are invited to see this show at the Lionheart Gallery at 27 Westchester Avenue in Pound Ridge, New York, from September 9–November 1, 2016. The exhibition’s opening reception will be on September 24 from 5-8 PM, which will include an artists talk. An assistant professor of art at Colorado College, Emma Powell graduated from the College of Wooster and received her MFA in photography from Rochester Institute of Technology. Often serving as her own model, Powell examines photography’s history while incorporating historic processes and other devices within her work’s imagery. Her cyanotypes, ambrotypes, and platinum/palladium prints are widely collected and acclaimed. For the new series Svala’s Saga, Powell collaborated with her mother and fellow artist Kirsten Hoving, Charles A. Dana Professor of Art History at Middlebury College and co-founder of PhotoPlace Gallery in Vermont. This joint project is inspired by the pressing environmental problem of species extinction, and was realized while mother and daughter were traveling within the minimalist landscapes of Iceland. Composed of more than 40 pigment over palladium prints, many of which will be on view at the Lionheart Gallery, Svala’s Saga is a “photographic fairy tale” that follows a woman named Svala. In a poignant echo of our planet’s ecological threats, she has been confronted with a sudden loss of the world’s birds. As the Earth heats and cools, Svala journeys through the Nordic wilderness like Alice in a bleakly beautiful wonderland, searching for the last remaining eggs among icebergs and glaciers. By drawing on the archetypal motif of the quest, the artists “hope to suggest that a lone individual can make a difference through perseverance and determination.” “Although we have seen a lot of photography dealing with the negative side of the current environmental crisis, we decided instead to create visually compelling images that reel you in and then reveal the deeper narrative,” says Powell, noting that she and Hoving find inspiration in fantasy sources ranging from Game of Thrones to nineteenth-century book illustration to other photographers like Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick. “Though the story is a fantasy, we are dealing with very real concerns.”


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Svala’s shifting psychological states are reflected in the nature by which she is surrounded: there is vulnerability as she faces waterfalls crashing over glowing green moss, tenderness as she cradles a new egg, and willful resolve as she scales steep mountain cliffs. The work is rich in archetypes and dream symbols: earth, smoke, flowing cloth, doors and ladders, and birds in flight. These surreal images are printed on Arches Platine paper using the palladium process over digital color. This is similar to a watercolor wash in that it has little contrast and detail. A layer of palladium chemistry is coated over the under-print and exposed using a digital negative. The print is then developed and processed, and the detail comes from the photographic palladium: the palladium soaks into the fibers of the paper, while the pigment remains on the surface. This process is quite unusual in its melding of vintage technique with digital innovation. In the words of Tristan Spinski in WIRED magazine, “In an ironic twist, Powell has shown that the very technology many feared would devalue the medium and undermine its place and relevance in the fine art world has, in an indirect way, done the very opposite.” Viewers will find so much to appreciate in this work: a message of hope and individual purpose in the face of environmental threat, a cinematic quality of a captivating heroine in an unknown land, and an impressive level of technique from masters of fine alternative photography and all of its possibilities. View Svala’s Saga by Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving at the Lionheart Gallery’s Exhibition, opening September 9, 2016 and running through November 1, 2016, Wednesday through Saturday, from 11 AM to 5 PM, and Sunday from 12 noon to 4 PM. For more information and directions to the gallery at 27 Westchester Avenue in Pound Ridge, New York, visit www. thelionheartgallery.com or call 914 764 8689.


SVALA’S SAGA


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Reflection, 2016 Photography, Platinum Palladium 14” x 11”, Editions of 10


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Divination, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 16” x 20”, Editions of 5


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Nesting, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 16” x 20”, Editions of 5


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Pathfinder, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 11” x 14”, Editions of 10


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Moving Mountains, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 11” x 14”, Editions of 10


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Final Heartbeat, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 16” x 20”, Editions of 5


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Hope, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 11” x 14”, Editions of 10


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Sacrifice, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 11” x 14”, Editions of 10


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Swift, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 11” x 14”, Editions of 10


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Lookout, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 20” x 16”, Editions of 5


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Into Darkness, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 14” x 11”, Editions of 10


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Silence, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 11” x 14”, Editions of 10


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Impasse, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 11” x 14”, Editions of 10


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The Next Step, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 14” x 11”, Editions of 10


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Voice in the Wall of Water, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 14” x 11”, Editions of 10


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Undaunted, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 16” x 20”, Editions of 5


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Discovery, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 11” x 14”, Editions of 10


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Visionary, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 11” x 14”, Editions of 10


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Lost, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 16” x 20”, Editions of 5


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House of the Reindeer Magician, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 16” x 20”, Editions of 5


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Alight, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 16” x 20”, Editions of 5


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Sighting, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 11” x 14”, Editions of 10


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Memorial, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 16” x 20”, Editions of 5


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Encased, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 11” x 14”, Editions of 10


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Icebound, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 11” x 14”, Editions of 10


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Fallen, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 16” x 20”, Editions of 5


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Crystal Captive, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 11” x 14”, Editions of 10


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Entangled, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 11” x 14”, Editions of 10


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Turning the Tide, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 11” x 14”, Editions of 10


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Flight, 2016 Photgraphy, Platinum Palladium 14” x 11”, Editions of 10


EXHIBITION PHOTOS


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Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving, SVALA’S SAGA, 2016


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Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving, SVALA’S SAGA, 2016


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Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving, SVALA’S SAGA, 2016


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Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving, SVALA’S SAGA, 2016


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Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving, SVALA’S SAGA, 2016


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Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving, SVALA’S SAGA, 2016


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Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving, SVALA’S SAGA, 2016


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Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving, SVALA’S SAGA, 2016


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Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving, SVALA’S SAGA, 2016


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Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving, SVALA’S SAGA, 2016


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Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving, SVALA’S SAGA, 2016


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Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving, SVALA’S SAGA, 2016


ARTSY.NET EDITORIAL

BY BONNI BRODNICK


50 Photography by Kirsten Hoving/Emma Powell Svala’s Saga by Bonni Brodnick


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MEDIUM.COM REVIEW BY BONNI BRODNICK


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Mother/Daughter Photographers Create Dreamlike Sequence: “Svala’s Saga” By Bonni Brodnick In this stunning photographic and fantastical narrative, Svala’s Saga captures the world on the precipice of extermination. Through the hybrid process of platinum palladium over a digital under-print similar to watercolor, one is swept into a dreamy, chronological fairy tale that relates something profound: the pressing environmental curse of species’ extinction. The surreal and dreamlike plot is about a young woman (Svala) and her discovery that all of the birds are gone. Rather than be overwhelmed by the certitude of the earth’s demise, the viewer joins Svala on her dream-like quest. As we experience Svala’s journey through the wilderness in search for the last remaining eggs, we see her climbing ledges of volcanic flows, standing on the crests of mountainous impasses, at the edge of a crevasse, or atop a glacier. Svala’s small character provides a visual reward when we look closer at the vast landscapes in which she poses.


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The archetypical motif of Svala’s quest suggests that a lone individual can make a difference towards change through perseverance and determination. The images take a softer tone as we see the last rescued eggs nested in the character’s tresses. The success of her journey is illustrated in the final images of Svala caressing a bird. Svala’s Saga is a mother/daughter collaboration between photographers Kirsten Hoving and Emma Powell. Although they have worked on informal art projects in the past, they were inspired to create the Svala series after two trips to Iceland. The otherworldly imagery the artists formulated through their joint-vision examines nature’s demise. Rather than relying on the shocking images of oil spills, Hoving and Powell seek an alternative medium in which to comment on our environment.


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“Doing this project together has been a wonderful thing to share,” said Hoving at an opening at The Lionheart Gallery in Pound Ridge, New York. “When my daughter and I shoot, it’s as if we have telepathy.” While creating a pose, Powell spoke about how she and her mother developed a shorthand. “For example, when I’m standing on a dramatic basalt rock formation, from a distance my mother will give hand signals that mean I should lift my gaze. We communicate so that we can get the shot we need.”


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Hoving and Powell love the combination of photography, landscape and dreams. Their connective and magical narrative illustrates the tension between mankind and Mother Nature. The photographic balance of vulnerability and fantasy is achieved through a black and white starkness softened by the addition of digital pigment. In the last images of the narrative, this unique combination lends to the storytelling progression. The powerful images encourage the viewer to consider how we fit into our landscape and how we, too, can make an impact. We are also left with a glimmer of hope that Svala’s pursuit to rescue the extinction of a species and save the environment is, indeed, an attainable reality.


This catalogue was published to accompany the Svala’s Saga Fall Exhibition at The Lionheart Gallery. Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving Svala’s Saga, September 2016 All images copyright of the artist. Images of the works are reproduced courtesy of the artist and The Lionheart Gallery. Curated by Susan Grissom Designed by Chelsea Walsh Essay by Tori Rysz Reviews by Bonni Brodnick All rights reserved. No part of this book may be produced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior permission in writing of the copyright holder and The Lionheart Gallery. 914 764 8689 www.thelionheartgallery.com 27 Westchester Avenue, Pound Ridge, NY 10576

Svala's Saga Catalog  

Features photography from Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving's current exhibit at The Lionheart Gallery, SVALA'S SAGA. Also includes exhibition...

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