FAR TOO CLOSE — HERMÈS FOUNDATION (2012)
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen images that were so quiet. If they were to speak, you’d only see them moving their lips.
— Johan Croneman
Traveling is to lose sight of the familiar. But sometimes the familiar—back at home—is too close to see. Martina Hoogland Ivanow explores this dichotomy by combining remote landscapes with portraits of her family and domestic interiors in Stockholm. She presents this series, Far too Close, for the first time in the United States at the Gallery at Hermès.
Taken over seven years, Ivanow traveled to and photographed what seem to be the edges of the world, including Siberia, Sakhalin Island north of Japan, Tierra del Fuego on the southern tip of Argentina, and the Kola Peninsula in Russian Lapland. She explains that the series is “a play with the idea of closeness and distance in a geographical, emotional and symbolic manner. It started as an investigation of my relationship to travel and ended with return to home, giving me new thoughts on family and how we are either identified or alienated within it."
Both the pictures from near and afar share the weight of history and together construct their own narrative, albeit an emotional one filled with half sentences. Why do we see things differently from a distance? Why is it so hard to describe the familiar, intimate parts of our lives? Ivanow’s distinct dark palette turns our focus to scale: an epic, aerial landscape, two women whispering, an off-kilter chandelier. Sometimes things are too close to see, but Ivanow’s pictures remind us to keep looking.
Martina Hoogland Ivanow, born in Stockholm in 1973, moved from Sweden at the age of 18 to study photography in Paris and later New York. After an early breakthrough in the mid 90’s living in London with many commercial commissions, she has spent the last ten years focusing on her artwork and exhibitions. In 2010 she received an IASPIS grant and a one-year residency in Berlin and a Scanpix photo prize for her project “Satellite.” Ivanow’s work has been exhibited at Moderna Museet (Stockholm), The Barbican (London), Brandts Museet for Fotokunst (Denmark), Gun Gallery (Stockholm), Fotografins Hus (Stockholm), and Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin). Far too Close was published by steidlMACK in 2011. She lives and works in Stockholm.