Scarlett Hooft Graafland

Magical situations dominate the Dutch photographer's unlikely landscapes


Dutch artist Scarlett Hooft Graafland chooses to produce work in remote locations where the inhabitants have been forced to adapt to the natural conditions rather than the other way around. For her it is not about being where only very few people have been before, but about discovering authenticity in a space, which often means that beauty and wonder simply drop into her lap.

It is all about magic: the magic of the location, the inhabitants and the living conditions. In her extensive travels, she creates site-specific installations inspired by local traditions and materials.

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“I am filled with nostalgia for places where people are very close to nature,” says Graafland. “Places where people have barely interfered with nature. The wonder of nostalgia for places you have never been to. The wonder of creating situations that have never existed before and will probably never exist again. Situations that are possible but very unlikely to occur again. Magic realism.”


Hooft Graafland sometimes spends months on the edges of the world waiting for “it” to happen. That “it” is a moment when dreams and fantasies mix with reality: Bolivian women wave sticks of candyfloss on salt pans, the entrails of polar bears trace out a palm tree at the North Pole, dromedaries with pigment-tinted humps shuffle across the desert, a stuffed blue reindeer stands out amidst thousands of its living fellows.

Once an exceptional location has demonstrated its magical capabilities, and has been captured in a photographic image, it is time to leave. The magic found in the final image could never have been conceived beforehand.