|How to Hunt, Photographs by Trine Søndergaard & Nicolai Howalt. |
Published by Hatje Cantz, 2011.
Reviewed by George Slade
Trine Søndergaard & Nicolai Howalt
How to Hunt
Photographs by Trine Søndergaard & Nicolai Howalt. Text by Liz Wells
Hatje Cantz, 2011. Hardbound. 116 pp., 66 color illustrations, 13-1/4x11-3/4".
At first glance, How to Hunt seems anything but what its title suggests. Maybe even at second glance, with the book open to the plates. Great clusters of natty blokes in Wellies and Abercrombie gear (the real outfitters, mind you, not the perfumed perfect-body mall stuff the kids are clamoring after) wandering open fields and tidy marshes with shotguns cracked open over their shoulders, occasionally pointing one skyward in random fashion. Dogs scuttling hither and yon, no apparent mission or bird in mouth. Great skies, the vertical plane of action for any hunt.
Gradually, though, it comes to you. The photographers have a mission. What Søndergaard and Howalt are expressing bears repeating, reiterating through a series of images that develop, if not in a strictly linear fashion, as an accumulation of impressions about how they — the artists — hunt for meaning. Some reading helps in this case; Liz Wells' fine essay sets the scene by discussing the "highly organized" nature of what we see in the book. Organized in three ways: by the Danish government, which sets aside open land for hunting; by the managers of the hunting preserves and clubs; and by Søndergaard and Howalt. The last bit of organization is most germane here. Wells states up front that the photographs are "edited composites, scenarios extracted from particular occasions rather than real-time narratives documenting the progress of a specific hunt."