The large-scale panoramic photographs by Ellen Kooi challenge us to view the world as a dramatic narrative. She wants us to seek the border between fantasy and reality. At first glance, the people that inhabit these panoramas of (mostly Dutch) landscapes seem to be at the mercy of their surroundings. But if we look at these pictures more carefully we see a more complex relationship, as the landscape almost responses to its inhabitants. The displays of nature we see are a symbolic reflection of the inner turmoils, or indeed of the happiness of these people. In a way comparable tot nineteenth century psychological portraits, kooi tries to tell us about myths, chance encounters and our relationship with the outside world. But keeping this in mind, her works are as much concerned with the landscape as they are with the person. By forming close connections between themes set in our visual memory of history but never choosing a main focus, Kooi’s works are suspensefull and hard to identify.
Using her experience in photographing both theatre and dance, Kooi creates scenes that feel familiar but look magical. Her refined techniques allow her to photograph landscapes in a way that we fail too see them. While some seem to focus on the fairytale qualities of her work, there also is a grimmer side to them. Children who at first seem to be frolicking may actually be running away scared or even petrified. A gorgeous woman doesn’t gaze at the beautiful landscape, she sees the oncoming industry behind it. Like the solitary figures in the works of Caspar David Friedrich, the inhabitants of the world of Ellen Kooi are always both in awe and in distress. The contrast between a personal world of fantasy and surrounding elements that are both real and symbolic form the richness of Koois work. (BY WALL DONE http://walldone.com)
All images © Ellen Kooi