With the subtle gesture of melting seawater, Lotta Törnroth seeks to encapsulate notions of the universal in Imaginary Islands. For several years Törnroth’s artistry has been fascinated by the ocean—its dangers and catastrophes, and its physical and psychological effects. This enchantment and preoccupation took Törnroth to Greenland, to the world’s largest island isolated from the rest of the world by an immense frozen sea. In Törnroth’s work we see her on a vast icy terrain in front of the camera, fixed as a lighthouse or as someone in anticipation of a loved one’s return. The numbing cold mornings that Törnroth experienced on the slippery ice by the coast were tinged by a feeling of eerie lonesomeness and reckless clumsiness. In Greenland, everyone knows someone who has given their lives to the sea. People commonly go missing during fishing trips and adventures. The body of water outside Nuuk is vast and cold—it makes it easy to disappear.
Since 2014, Törnroth has collected seawater from around the world. Imaginary Islands forms an installation in Photographic Gallery Hippolyte that comprises photographs and miniature seawater icebergs. Törnroth freezes small portions of her liquid archive into scaled-down icebergs, and allows them to melt together with blue gouache on aquarelle paper. The icebergs displayed in the gallery take hours to melt and another three days for the formation of that water to dry on the aquarelle paper—resulting in paintings with saltwater crystals that from above can be seen as islands. A specific electric colour of blue inspires Törnroth’s iceberg paintings—particularly Yves Klein’s Blue Globe from 1957. For Törnroth the intense blue colour symbolises a world without divisions between countries, land, and water.
In addition, the small islands can also be read as a form of photography: instead of photo paper, the aquarelle paper is exposed to water and gouache and rendered by time’s drying process. The technique is nurtured by chance, similar to the approach of using long exposure times when photographing with analogue film. The salt crystals that remain on the aquarelle paper after the seawater has evaporated evoke the words of the author Märta Tikkanen’s words: ”A person becomes so small in The Land of the People, Kalaallit Nunaat, so short her second among the salt crystals.” (The Great Catcher).
Lotta Törnroth (b. 1981) is an artist residing in Stockholm. She has graduated as Master of Fine Arts in Photography from Aalto University, Helsinki, and holds a BFA from the School of Photography (Valand Academy, Gothenburg, 2012). In 2014 she was awarded the Victor Fellowship by Hasselblad Foundation and spent six months at the International Studio & Curatorial Program in New York. Subsequently, she worked in Stockholm and spent time in various residencies, e.g. Finland, Greece and Greenland. Törnroth’s works have been on display in galleries and institutions in Stockholm, Malmö, Gothenburg, Helsinki, and New York. Törnroth’s new book Imaginary Islands (Blackbook Publications) was published in January 2019 and is available at Hippolyte’s bookstore. www.lottatornroth.com
Iaspis, The Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Programme for Visual and Applied Arts, has kindly supported the exhibition.
Photographic Gallery Hippolyte
Open: Tue-Fri 12-17, Sat-Sun 12-16
image: Lotta Törnroth, The Lighthouse, Nuup Kangerlua, 80 x 80cm, 2017