“The Road At The Edge”: a portfolio in the latest issue of Fantom, an art magazine about contemporary photography in every form. Text by Elisabeth Biondi. All photos ©Karine Laval (except cover image)
THE ROAD AT THE EDGE by Elisabeth Biondi
Imagine yourself driving at the northern tip of Norway listening to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on the longest day of the year. What would that be like? Karine Laval spent one summer in the tiny fishing village of Vadsø roaming the seaside with her camera.
The days were long and the northern light sublime, so different from light in France where she grew up. The arctic landscape shimmered in subtle greens, and the sky merged blue with the sea. She had been there two years earlier during fall when the days were shorter and the seashore more gloomy. Both times she followed a narrow road at the edge of the fjord on the fringe of Europe. Hence the chosen title: The Road at the Edge. Before going to Norway, Laval had been developing her on-going series, Poolscapes , wherein water takes the place of landscape as a fluid surrounding for her abstracted representational subjects. Inspired by the unfamiliar surroundings, Laval has created a series of pictures that go far beyond traditional landscape photography. Her particular fusion of color, light, form, and texture imbue these remote scenes with a sentiment that lingers somewhere between the real and the surreal, the natural and the man made: looking, re-looking, exploring, discarding, and abstracting until what gets translated into a photograph fully incorporates her experience.
Just as landscape dominates the figure in Caspar David Friedrich’s exquisite moody paintings, in Laval’s photographs the geographic and abstract coexist in her portrayal of a remote island with the Old Norse name that translates iconically as “island with water.”
Born in Paris, Laval currently lives and works in New York. Educated at the University of La Sorbonne and the University of ASSAS in Paris, where she majored in communications and journalism, she completed her education with photography and design courses at Cooper Union, SVA and the New School of New York. She has alternated magazine commissions and publications with artistic practice, wherein she combines portraiture with images of geographical locations and visual narratives. Among her solo shows are French Cultural Center, Oslo and Nattgalleriet (The Night Gallery;) Sorlandet Art Museum, Kristiansand, Norway; Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York City; Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York City; and M+B Gallery, Los Angeles. Laval has also exhibited at festivals and institutions such as the Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Lodz Festival, Poland; Rhubarb- Rhubarb, Birmingham; and Les Rencontres d’Arles in France, to name a few.