P•P•O•W is pleased to announce the U.S. premier of Dutch photo artist ELLEN KOOI. The exhibition contains seven large color photographs that are often over six feet wide. Each print is mounted on plexiglass so that they appear to hover close to the wall. These panoramas of landscapes and cityscapes taken in the Netherlands are carefully staged. People contribute an enigmatic narrative to the landscape. Kooi works in the manner of a film director, making preliminary sketches, designing the location and lighting, and positioning her human subjects. Despite their size and the involved production method behind these photoworks, Kooi manages to preserve in each piece the surprise and spontaneity of a snapshot.
Two pieces on display here are commissions by the Dutch city of Amersfoort. In one case, flirtation and humor subtlety pervade the image. A woman is standing in the loose soil of a grassy knoll across the street from a new housing development. Planted there, with her back to us, she is shot from the waist down. The lift of her short skirt to the right makes the breeze apparent while revealing a bit of her garment underneath.
In the second Amersfoot commission the quotidian takes on the quality of an epic: six women standing apart and at the edge of a wharf cast their throwing rods into the water. The chiaroscuro of the light at dusk and the convexity formed by the vanishing points at either side of the wharf's corner reference the formal aspects of nineteenth century landscape painting and contribute to the sense of estrangement and anomie.
In these, as with other pieces in the show, Kooi fuses her classical compositions with a documentary style and a perfectly pitched technique. She conveys the conflicting impulses which characterize life today: the constant changes it undergoes, the rapid shifts in moods and conditions.
Ellen Kooi has been exhibiting her photoworks in Europe since 1990. Her pieces have been commissioned and collected by the city of Amersfoort, as well as the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden and the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, among others