Scarlett Hooft Graafland

Winner 2012

About the artist

Scarlett Hooft Graafland (1973) completed her studies at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, and went on to earn a Masters in Sculpture from Parsons School of Design in New York. Her installations consist of temporary sculptures, often placed in inhospitable areas. Graafland further takes extraordinary photographs her works with her analog camera.

Scarlett Hooft Graafland’s photographs are unedited analogs. Graafland spent 10 years working in the high plains of Bolivia, has stayed in the Inuit village of Igloolik (in the Canadian Arctic) several times, and has toured the African island of Madagascar. Each of these places and voyages are reflected in her works.

"I am always looking for cultures that are still intact so that I can experience something of them before they disappear.”

Scarlett Hooft Graafland

To create her works, Scarlett travels to remote areas where traditional culture is still virtually intact and people live close to unspoiled nature; places such as the Canadian Arctic, rural China, the highlands of Bolivia, Madagascar, Iceland and Vanuatu. Alongside the locals, she creates playful, sculptural performances in the landscape, which she then photographs. This results in magical and poetic images that merge reality and fiction. Flying bowler hats in the desert, children painted blue under a shelter, reindeer antlers floating in the ice: the beautiful photographs stimulate our imaginations whilst serving as a call to action that reminds us to be especially careful with our planet.

Scarlett Hooft Graafland journeys to destinations where the horizons evoke an enormous sense of space and freedom. The climate is usually extreme and people adjust their lives to fit the rhythm of the surrounding natural world. Together with the local populus, Graafland  creates small, playful interventions  in the natural space that are always reversible. The intervention or performance is dictated by the landscape so that the context of the chosen spot is an important part of the work;  reality and fiction merge, imagination is given free rein.


The journey

Scarlett’s chosen destination for her trip  was the Altiplano in Bolivia. The Altiplano in the highlands of Bolivia is one of her favorite destinations—a place  she has been visiting since 2004. According to Scarlett, the surreal landscapes, framed by the blue skies above,  prompt you to imagine yourself in Magritte’s paintings. Scarlett: “And because of the vastness and the total freedom you feel, you get the idea that anything is possible there.” The endless, almost blindingly white salt desert Salar de Uyuni resembles an immense sheet of blank drawing paper that inspires Scarlett.

During her excursion to Bolivia, Scarlett took on a road trip alongside a group of Bolivian men. They slept in the car on several occasions. Scarlett did not know the men; there was simply trust between the members of their little group. This experience, unique and less likely to occur in larger city, is only one example of the things that rendered the trip extra special for her.

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