Dutch photographer, Ellen Kooi, creates theatrically tinged images that act as a window into a fairy tale world we never knew existed. Rather than present a finished idea or definitive narrative, each of her scenes has mystery inherently woven throughout, pulling viewers in repeatedly in futile efforts to solve the unsolvable.

Kooi first plans her photographs out in detail with prep sketches outlining her set design and subjects, treating the landscape like a stage. She then brings in lighting rigs and shoots the scenes during daylight hours with large format camera, giving the photos an eerie, otherworldly feel that effectively straddles the line between fantasy and realty. The end result are images that strike the viewer as oddly haunting and dangerously beautiful all at the same time. 

Most are taken in the countryside around her home in Haarlem (insert Harlem joke here)—drawing from the often frigid-looking, barren environment—and the title of each piece is usually drawn directly from the name of its location, emphasizing close ties between landscape and subject. Above, Langerak – Blauwe Boom (2014)—which translates to “Langerak – Blue Tree”—uses a saturated palette and devotes a small portion of the visual real estate of the image to the subject, keeping the viewer coming back again and again to more fully examine the scene.

A native of Leeuwarden in the Netherlands, Kooi has exhibited throughout Europe + the states and currently has a show on view at the Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire in Paris, France. NYC—you can see recent work of hers tomorrow through Sunday at P.P.O.W.‘s booth at The AIPAD Photography Show (Booth 125), located at the Park Avenue Armory (643 Park Avenue). The show’s open to the public—tickets are $30 for regular admission, $10 for students with ID.

You see more of Kooi’s work on her Web site (click ‘ICONS’—it’s the better navigation).

Above: Langerak – Blauwe Boom, 2014
C-print mounted on plexi and museum board
35 ½ x 67 inches
Courtesy of the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York

Below: Oosterplas – Reflection, 2012
C-print mounted on plexi and museum board
39½ x 36 inches
Courtesy of the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York
EllenKooi_Oosterplas-reflection_argb_groot

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These panoramas blur the distinction between fantasy and memory, creating a world that is at once surreal and familiar.
P.P.O.W. Gallery, New York