Landscape as Narrative at Vision Neil Folberg Gallery

In describing her approach to photography, Agnieszka Sosnowska writes: “For a long time I thought that photographs showed the viewer what the world looked like. It wasn’t until college that I learned that a photograph could tell a story.” Her sentiment encapsulates the work of many of the photographers that Vision Neil Folberg Gallery will be presenting at Art Toronto 2014, who take—and sometimes manipulate—pictures to tell stories about themselves, the world, and the nature of being human. Among these photographers, in addition to Sosnowska, are Neil Folberg himself (the gallery’s owner and an accomplished photographer), Georg Kuettinger, Ronnie Setter, and Yaara Sylva.

In her richly toned black-and-white photographs Sosnowska focuses on herself, the rugged beauty of the rural Icelandic landscape that surrounds her, and fellow inhabitants of these remote locations. In two of her works, she captures herself engaging with the land in different ways. My Belt, Héraðsandur, Iceland (2011) is a straight-on shot, taken, it seems, right after a hunt. The artist stares directly into the camera, a rifle slung over her shoulders; at her waist is a belt strung with the carcasses of wild fowl. Her thin dress and bare feet temper this image with a sense of her own vulnerability. She is similarly clad in Self Portrait. Mjóifjörður, Iceland (2013), where she appears with her back to the viewer; her body is a fragile sight next to the massive walls of packed snow between which she stands.

Folberg and Kuettinger have also focused on landscapes. Having studied with Ansel Adams while still a teenager, Folberg went on to photograph the arid deserts of Israel, Egypt, and Jordan, which continue to occupy him. He captures an ancient monolith in the Jordan Valley in his otherworldly black-and-white photograph, Monolith, Sartaba (2014). Here, ancient and contemporary worlds collide; the monolith serves as a marker of a past civilization in a land defined and re-defined by the populations who have lived in it over millennia. In his highly manipulated images composed of many individual photographs, Kuettinger concocts fantastical landscapes reflecting our perceptions and experiences of different environments. In Kreta (2013), he piles hills upon mountains to create an undulating, multicolored vista evoking references ranging from our idealized visions of unspoiled nature to our enduring fascination with those who trek out into it, sometimes never to return.

Visit Vision Neil Folberg Gallery at Art Toronto 2014, Main, Booth 722, Oct. 24th–27th, 2014.

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