“This is a complicated and fragile world of technology, chemistry, and programming. At every stage in this process, the production of the image can take a whole, new turn – there is no correct way of creating a photograph. We might see her work as conceptual art but whereas the conceptual artists of the 1960s and 70s saw photographs primarily as a record of what they were doing in front of the lens, Hallgerður dives in through the lens, like Alice down the rabbit hole, to report back to us on the wonders she discovers.”
– Jón Proppé, Icelandic art historian
Photography about photography, these works are about the photographic medium. Inspired by textbooks Hallgerður has given herself homework, each work an exercise around a certain aspect of the medium, a visual answer to a question. Hallgerður is curious, on a quest to understand better how photography works, what it does and learning through doing.
Taking a photograph can seem so simple: a push of a button, collecting rather than creating, a recording of photons meeting molecules. How a photograph is made can seem technically mysterious while simultaneously emotional, with aesthetics and instincts coming to play, but also decidedly rooted in the scientific. In the series of photographic studies presented in Hippolyte Studio Hallgeður sets out to learn everything about photography by creating moments where all things photographic intersect. Thinking about optics, chemistry, software and code, while making use of the experience of looking as well as theories on issues ranging from composition to institutional critique.
In Hippolyte’s Studio space some of the artworks on display explore contrasting systems that are commonly used when looking at colour photographs. One of these being CMYK, which begins with the white canvas, much like what most people are familiar with when drawing and painting. The absence of colour is represented by white and darkness is created by adding all of the colours; cyan, magenta, yellow and black. While the RGB system operates differently, in it the absence of colour corresponds to the absence of light or darkness, and all the colours coming together create white. Resembling more how the human eye usually perceives colours.
Hallgerður Hallgrímsdóttir (b. 1984) is currently living and working in Reykjavik. Hallgerður’s approach to photography comes from a fascination with the medium itself. Sometimes it is a way of collecting moods, weather and expressions, at other times photography becomes both medium and concept. With a special interest in editing the artist creates series, using her own images as well as found ones. She graduated as a Master of Fine Arts from Valand Academy in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 2019. Previously she studied her BA in Fine Art Photography at Glasgow School of Art. In the past years Hallgerður has exhibited work both locally and internationally. In 2016 she published her first photo book, Hvassast, portraying the eerie beauty of the Icelandic everyday and in 2018 the book of poetry and pictures Límkenndir dagar was published by Pastel ritröð, Akureyri.
A Few Thoughts on Photography – Vol. III
image: Hallgerður Hallgrímsdóttir, Additive colour model (RGB) – White on white, 2021