As human beings, we have a deep bond with the places we inhabit. Each of our cultures maintains a mythical story to tell us about our origins. Karoline Hjort and Riitta Ikonen are 2 photographic artists who captured the beauty of wildlife in connection with humans. This unique series of photographs features the elderly, honoring their roots in wearable sculptures that remind us of where we came from.
We at Bright Side want to share some of the work that these talented artists have been developing for years. And as each image has a story to tell, we want to take you, photograph by photograph, through this folkloric journey.
Eyes as Big as Plates
Eyes as Big as Plates is the name of this artistic series in which Karoline Hjorth and Riitta Ikonen have used their imaginations to capture unique shots. Inspired by the characters of Nordic folklore, this duo of photographers began to portray their stories through the elderly. Over time, the original idea evolved into a deep representation of the modern human being with nature.
The elderly being part of these compositions with nature is one of the characteristics that make these images special. They not only participate as models, but also merge with the surroundings, representing their cultural origins. Farmers, fishermen, zoologists, plumbers, opera singers, housewives, artists, academics, and retired skydivers collaborated to make this project a reality.
Figures in the landscape
Since 2011, the artist duo has traveled the world photographing seniors in several countries. As a subject that inhabits the landscape, people become characters dressed in the natural elements they find around them.
Both photographers, Hjorth and Ikonen, work together on the creation of the portable sculptures. But, in some cases, the shots are improvised in places chosen by the elders. Most of the subjects of these mystical shots are people that the artists meet by chance during their travels.
Life experience and nature
The role of older people in this series is also a portrait of their life experiences. The project, Eyes as Big as Plates, aims to cross borders and encourage society to rediscover a demographic group curious about new experiences. It is their knowledge, attitude, and stamina that is explored in each collaborator.
There’s a bond in our roots.
Some of the seniors in the portraits get to choose the place where they are photographed. Whether it is a stone or a beach, these almost-magical places have a special meaning to them. Each photograph seeks to give a different perspective of the environment, making them feel part of it.
To enter this world of folklore, you have to do so with your eyes wide open. The name of this project was inspired by a folk tale about a dog that lives under a bridge and has eyes as big as plates. This is a reference for the curiosity that guides the outcome of these series.
And there’s also magic behind the lens.
All the photos are taken with an analog camera, which not only makes the process more challenging but also interesting. Both parties, the photographers and the subjects, go through an experience of bonding with the elements. It can take hours to get the perfect shot, but the results are worth it.
The journey continues.
This special project, created by Karoline Hjorth and Riitta Ikonen, has traveled around the world and been exhibited in several of the most important galleries. The book, Eyes as Big as Plates, launched in 2017 and was shortlisted for the Paris Photo—Aperture Foundation Photobook Awards in the “First Photobook” category, as one of 20 books out of nearly a thousand entries.
There is a second book, Eyes as Big as Plates 2, which features 50 brand-new works and field notes made over the last 4 years in various countries around the world.
Which of the photos did you enjoy the most? Do you have a story you would like to create a project about? Share it with us in the comments.