A collaborative series by Emma Powell & Kirsten Hoving
From the beginning, Svala was the guardian of the birds. But on a cold, gray day, she no longer heard them. 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: she must rescue the birds. She bid farewell to home and hearth, then set out across the world on her quest.
Svala’s Saga is a photographic fairy tale about the journey of a single character and the world she inhabits. As told through fifty interrelated photographs, our strong female heroine, Svala, is confronted with the sudden loss of the world’s birds. She then embarks on a mythic quest: as the Earth heats and cools, she journeys through the wilderness searching for the last remaining eggs. Svala’s Saga harnesses the power of fiction to explore topics such as climate change and species extinction.
The landscape of Iceland is an active character in the narrative. Svala interacts dramatically with a variety of visually astonishing rock formations, steam vents, glaciers, and geysers. In this realm of environmental extremes, Svala’s story abounds with magic and metaphor.
Svala’s Saga is printed using the historic palladium process coated over a digital/pigment under-print, a process that has been called “Pigment over Palladium.” This hybrid technique evokes hand-colored photographs or painted illustrations, reinforcing the combination of fantasy and photography.
In Search of Sleep
This is a series of tea/wine toned cyanotypes. They have all been created between 2011-2014.
My photographic work focuses on fictional narrative. I create art that visualizes curious scenarios in order to convey a message or feeling. I utilize a range of hand-applied photographic emulsions in order to visualize the distance between fantasy and reality, as well as to make prints that appear as objects instead of windows. The photographic processes I use are chosen intentionally to evoke another place or time that is removed from the every day, adding layers of narrative meaning through historical references or material qualities.
The manipulation of photographic processes plays a distinctive role in my work. I use alternative photographic emulsions to explore experiential methods of image-making. For each project, I carefully consider what the photographic process will add or reveal in the images. I incorporate digital manipulation in my work in order to expand the narrative possibilities. Digital collage allows me to create scenes that would be impossible to capture in reality.
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.
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