How to Hunt and Dying Birds

 Trine Søndergaard & Nicolai Howalt,  Fiskedammen/The Fish Pond , 2005, 25 x 31 1/2” Ed.1/5+2AP / 47 x 59” Ed 1/5+2AP / 63 x 79” Ed 1/3+2AP

Trine Søndergaard & Nicolai Howalt, Fiskedammen/The Fish Pond, 2005, 25 x 31 1/2” Ed.1/5+2AP / 47 x 59” Ed 1/5+2AP / 63 x 79” Ed 1/3+2AP

This week marks the release of two books of photos by long-time collaborators Nicolai Howalt & Trine Søndergaard. How to Hunt, originally published in 2005, has been rereleased in a larger edition by Hatje Cantz. Dying Birds, a series of photos conceived following How to Hunt, is being published by Hassla.

Between 2005 and 2010,  Howalt and Søndergaard joined the annual fall and winter hunts in their home country of Denmark. The pair used these events to explore the relationship between humans and nature, experimenting with modes of representation and existential themes. Originally an act of survival, hunting is for many cultures today a recreational activity often reserved for the privileged who, as Howalt and Søndergaard say, long for “some kind of authentic relationship to nature.”  This lack of authenticity is the motivation behind the How to Hunt photographs, which intentionally lack it too.

The works at first appear as beautifully composed, painterly landscape photos, but closer investigation reveals a further process. The photographs have been manipulated by the artists through layering multiple negatives to create one final image. The resulting scenes – featuring large groups of men (often the same man), many dogs (often the same dog), and dramatic landscapes – create the illusion of action and grandeur that is a desired outcome of the sport. The photographs are both documentary and art, riding the line between real and imaginary – not unlike the modern hunt.

Dying Birds is a series that explores one element of the How to Hunt photos. By zooming in on birds that have been shot (by both gun and camera), the artists take a real and gruesome moment of the hunt and aestheticize it, again examining the contrived nature of the activity. Unlike the How to Hunt photos, the Dying Birds are stark, abstract, and often out of focus, resulting in images that feel private and enigmatic.

An upcoming exhibition of Howalt and Søndergaard’s work will take place December 4, 2010–March 6, 2011 at the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum.

How to Hunt
Nicolai Howalt & Trine Søndergaard
Texts by Liz Wells, graphic design by Rasmus Koch Studio
October 2010
Available at www.hatjecantz.de

Dying Birds
Nicolai Howalt & Trine Søndergaard
October 2010
Edition of 500
Available at www.hasslabooks.com
 Trine Søndergaard & Nicolai Howalt,  Kromanns Remise , 2005, 25 x 31 1/2” Ed.1/5+2AP / 47 x 59” Ed 1/5+2AP / 63 x 79” Ed 1/3+2AP

Trine Søndergaard & Nicolai Howalt, Kromanns Remise, 2005, 25 x 31 1/2” Ed.1/5+2AP / 47 x 59” Ed 1/5+2AP / 63 x 79” Ed 1/3+2AP

 Trine Søndergaard & Nicolai Howalt,  Nordvest Satten/The Northwest Beat , 2005, 25 x 31 1/2” Ed.1/5+2AP / 47 x 59” Ed 1/5+2AP / 63 x 79” Ed 1/3+2AP

Trine Søndergaard & Nicolai Howalt, Nordvest Satten/The Northwest Beat, 2005, 25 x 31 1/2” Ed.1/5+2AP / 47 x 59” Ed 1/5+2AP / 63 x 79” Ed 1/3+2AP

 Trine Søndergaard & Nicolai Howalt,  Photogravure no 8 , 20 1/2″ x 17 1/2″, Ed 1/18, 2007-2009

Trine Søndergaard & Nicolai Howalt, Photogravure no 8, 20 1/2″ x 17 1/2″, Ed 1/18, 2007-2009

 Trine Søndergaard & Nicolai Howalt,  Photogravure no 13 , 20 1/2″ x 17 1/2″, Ed 1/18, 2007-2009

Trine Søndergaard & Nicolai Howalt, Photogravure no 13, 20 1/2″ x 17 1/2″, Ed 1/18, 2007-2009

 Trine Søndergaard & Nicolai Howalt,  Photogravure no 11 , 20 1/2″ x 17 1/2″, Ed 1/18, 2007-2009

Trine Søndergaard & Nicolai Howalt, Photogravure no 11, 20 1/2″ x 17 1/2″, Ed 1/18, 2007-2009

Meredith Hudson