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photo-eye Book Reviews: Bifröst

Bifröst, By Espen R. Krukhaug.
Published by Einer Books, 2011.
Reviewed by Daniel W. Coburn
Espen R. Krukhaug Bifröst
Photographs by Espen R. Krukhaug
Einer Books, Fetsund, 2011. Hardbound. 104 pp., 81 color illustrations, 11-3/4x11-3/4".

In Norse Mythology the word Bifröst is used to describe a burning rainbow bridge that spans between earth and the realm of the gods. In his recent monograph, Espen Krukhaug uses the term Bifröst and a series of photographs in an effort to describe what it's like to suffer from insomnia. In the preface he writes, "I can imagine a good night's sleep, but it always seems just out of reach, as if I'm walking across an endless bridge, never reaching the other side."

Krukhaug presents a series of images that are easy on the eyes. The photographs are well crafted but often employ an eerie colorcast, infusing each image with a poetic and dreamlike ambience. These green, pink and purple tones provide context and a suitable backdrop for Krukhaug's subjects who seem plagued by the penetrating light of a city that is never dark.

Bifröst, by Espen R. Krukhaug. Published by Einer Books, 2011.
Bifröst includes images of dimly lit interior spaces and semi urban landscapes veiled by a sheath of darkness. These photographs seem appropriate and represent scenes that an insomniac might encounter on a midnight stroll. But Krukhaug also photographs models that supposedly suffer from sleep deprivation. Fortunately for him, insomnia seems to only affect young indie/hipster women that like to lounge partially nude in their bedrooms under soft light. The pages of this book are littered with heroin chic faces, either engaging the camera with a come-hither gaze or staring into oblivion in a deep contemplative state. These images are sure to help sell additional copies of Bifröst, but in my opinion detract from the credibility of Krukhaug's investigation.

Bifröst, by Espen R. Krukhaug. Published by Einer Books, 2011.
The strongest images in this book are those that elevate the mundane elements of every day life to monumental status. In Krukhaug's world a wrinkled sheet is transformed into an expansive mountain range. Pebbles, cobblestone, and dust on a dirty path begin to form alien landscapes. The artist uses blur to create beautiful abstract images that remind me of color field paintings by Mark Rothko. This approach to image making begins to describe the psychological state of a suffering insomniac.

Bifröst, by Espen R. Krukhaug. Published by Einer Books, 2011.
Bifröst includes about 80 images in a single hardbound volume. The photographs are beautiful but sometimes redundant and a bit self-indulgent. Krukhaug's artist statement is the only informative text printed in the book, so as a reader you won't be overwhelmed by artspeak or intellectual ballyhoo. I like this book because I see it for what it is: a series of beautiful photographs, made by a skilled photographer with a poetic vision. I think you will like it too.—DANIEL W. COBURN

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DANIEL W. COBURN is a contemporary photographer whose visually arresting images have garnered national and international praise. Selections from his body of work have been featured in prestigious exhibitions at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art and the Chelsea Museum of Art in New York. In 2007, Coburn was a recipient of the Artist-In-Residence award at Rocky Mountain National Park. He published a photographic essay entitled Rediscovering Paradise which focused on the impact of an overwhelming human presence in the National Park. He was a recipient of the 2008 Kansas Mid-Career Artist Fellowship Award presented by the Kansas Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Coburn's prints are held in many public and private collections including The Mulvane Museum of Art, The Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, The Mariana Kistler-Beach Museum of Art and the Moraine Park Museum. Daniel is co-author of a book entitled "Between Earth and Sky" which showcases his collection of photographs from the Midwest. His writings and photographs appear regularly in regional and national publications including Fraction Magazine and photo-eye Magazine. Coburn recieved his BFA with an emphasis in photography from Washburn University where he was the recipient of numerous honors including the prestigious Charles and Margaret Pollak Award. He is currently an instructor and graduate student studying photography at the University of New Mexico.