CONTEMPORARY SWEDISH PHOTOGRAPHY, ART & THEORY PUBLISHING (2012)
Written by Anders Olofsson
Martina Hoogland Ivanow has been referred to as ”the princess of darkness”. This nickname suggests an affinity with the hidden, frightening aspects of human nature, perhaps even a closeness to a kind of existential destructiveness. The world she depicts is certainly dark, but not from a metaphysical perspective. Martina Hoogland Ivanow’s darkness emerges as the direct result of a slowly developing process, where the photographic image is only the last link in a chain that leads from isolated observations to a comprehensive insight into the complexity of life.
Martina Hoogland Ivanow trained in Paris and New York, and became an established fashion photographer in London during the nineties, a time when magazines such as Dazed & Confused, i-D, and Face were developing their brands with the help of idiosyncratic young photographers who didn’t have anything against breaking with the traditions and stereotypes of fashion photography. Alongside these editorial projects, Hoogland Ivanow took campaign photographs for fashion houses such as Prada and Miu Miu. In the beginning of the 2000s she chose to move back to Stockholm in order to devote more time to her own book projects.
Martina Hoogland Ivanow does not belong to that category of photographers who constantly wander around with a camera hung round their necks. Time is and important factor in the majority of her projects, but not as something to be compressed or cut short, but rather the opposite. She devotes a great deal of time to research, planning and post production. The actual photographing is ”merely” a means to facilitate the investigation of how the self relates to the world and what is contained within the subconscious. The motifs she turns to radiate a kind of everyday aura, but not the kind that can be encountered at just any given moment. Often she stumbles over precisely the kinds of moments or situations that lie almost unnoticed between events we normally ascribe greater worth. Light that barely filters through a blood-red curtain; a boy with silver shoes, seemingly floating free in the air; steps that lead up from a body of water towards the sky – these images speak of a kind of absence that is simultaneously a type of extreme presence a dense atmosphere without any real meaning.
On those occasions when people appear in Martina Hoogland Ivanow’s images, the situation is often the same: they either turn away from the viewer or their faces are hidden in shadows, as if they are more like timeless representations of humanity than identifiable individuals with a name or history. Many of Martina Hoogland Ivanow’s images have been taken on long journeys to what she describes as the ”ends of the earth.” It doesn’t really matter whether it is in Antarctica, the islands of Sakhalin, Tierra del Fuego, or the Kola Peninsula. She creates and arc between geographical peripheries and the personal inner worlds. Her dark images are like reflecting pools where, in the words of the poet Gunnar Ekelöf, we can be sure that ”what is bottom in you is also bottom in them.”