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Art Watch : Elin Høyland

Elin Høyland is our Art Watch Artist for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across any discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by. Or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch.

Norwegian photographer Elin Høyland’s work is a sensitive and powerful outcome of her thought process. Whereby she understands and celebrates the lives of people around her. She truly believes in upholding that which is seemingly unimportant to all. The lives and activities of those shrouded under what is considered banal. For her nothing is banal – and everything has its own meaning and beauty.

“I am deeply fascinated by the ordinary. The unposed. The details of everyday moments. I seek to recall and interact with my own sensation of being in these places, in the moments before they disappear.” Says Elin, explaining that she tries to capture the temporality of the passage of time and human existence enclosed within it.

For this artist it is important to present these stories to the world. Of lives and stories and as she explains –“ I want to make the invisible visible. To treasure the underexposed.” And to that end she has devoted herself to documenting through her photographs – remarkable lives.

She photographs and then writes a bit of fiction that complements what she has shot.

Why Elin Høyland?

“I like to challenge the concept of entitlement. I interact with people and places that seek neither privilege nor permission.”

Demonstrating her idea she follows the lives of two elderly brothers. Harald and Mathias Ramen lived together in Tessanden, in a small hamlet in rural Norway. They preferred to live in isolation for years, cut off from the rest of the world. They chose, instead, to live in a humble, old-fashioned manner, enjoying nature and each other’s quiet company. One doesn’t know much about their lives except that they had 5 other siblings and  that they themselves remained unmarried.

Elin Høyland befriended the brothers, and with their permission, photographed them in their daily routines over the course of several years. The result was a series of photographs which are charming and poignant , and depicts a disappearing way of life. The photos brim over with the the love and compassion of this artist and have a serious, but sometimes humorous, tone.

The brothers held a job for an electricity company, and worked as loggers and carpenters in the village, before retiring. As Harald said, they mostly chopped and carried wood, and burned wood to keep warm in sub-zero temperatures. They regularly fed wild birds in their twenty bird boxes that they managed. They were extremely ensconced in  their predictable and comforting routine.

Listening to the radio or reading the local paper for entertainment. It was the beauty of their standard and yet disciplined and simple lives that Elin has masterfully captured.

In another sequence she captures the story of brothers and sisters, who lead two very different lives, and yet lived within a matter of yards of each other. Through her photographs Høyland explores the choices, the different dreams and needs that the siblings sought to fulfil in their lives. While the physical distance separating brother and sister Edvard and Bergit may have been minimal, however their emotional and lifestyle choices were far apart. Award-winning Norwegian novelist and poet Gaute Heivoll, has written a short fictional piece inspired by the images.


For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – explore the ART WATCH archive.

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