Sofia Colvin’s Alien Landscapes
Text by Danny Shneyderman
Images courtesy of Sofia Colvin
Sofia Colvin’s photography is visceral, often warping the familiar into something otherworldly. She has been featured in Teen Vogue, Surface Magazine, and Harper’s Bazaar India, with a repertoire ranging from editorial fashion to studies in garments and landscapes.
Colvin’s breathtaking series To Make a Mirror is a meditation on the ways in which we blend and fade into these natural landscapes. A nude garment melts into desert sand, a dark green dress is swallowed by mossy rocks. Long, stiff dress sleeves attach themselves to mangled tree branches. Colvin encourages the viewer to forget that we live in an age consumed by all things artificial. In To Make a Mirror there is no pollution, no branding, no media or technology. People do not, and cannot, impose themselves upon the environment. The photographs are an eyes-closed moment of simplicity and quiet.
To Make a Mirror began with a hunger for adventure. Colvin scouted locations online and created image boards inspired by the landscapes themselves. She shot in the American West and traveled as far as Iceland, spending about a week in each location. “The garment, landscape, and composition [were] thought out and planned,” she said. “I wanted each piece to come together to create something seamless.”
Colvin worked alongside skilled student designers—both friends and new collaborators—to sketch and realize looks, source fabric, and organize fittings. She chose designers based on their portfolios. “I see if they have certain construction elements. A lot of the garments are about shapes and silhouettes.”
Colvin herself is also a subject of the series. She is the girl in the green dress, the girl standing on black sand, the girl whose arms become tree branches. The shots were taken on a tripod and a remote, or, in certain locations, Colvin’s mother would help frame the shot and click the shutter. “When I stand in each location I am able to experience both the landscape and also [capture] the photo. It's a way to feel even more invested in my work.”
Colvin’s series Material & Space is also concerned with our human relationship to landscape. Instead of exploring landscapes in nature, Material & Space hones in on the smaller scenes of our everyday lives. Colvin treats mundane objects as small art installations—photographing wood, paper, tape, and string. These materials make up the architecture of the project, and the photos themselves are curated with attention to angles, gesture, and simplicity. Colvin finds photos of gallery installations appealing, as they become their own meta medium.
Currently Colvin is working with up-and coming pop star Morgan Saint—a dreamy singer/songwriter who recently signed with Sony’s Epic Records. Colvin and Saint collaborated on the artwork for Saint’s singles, “YOU”, and “Glass House” which were both released this year. Colvin affectionately refers to Saint as her muse. “I am constantly photographing Morgan for her tour announcements, promotional content, and social media.” Saint is a visual artist as well, and she and Colvin often bounce ideas off one another and combine their styles into one image.
Colvin’s masterful attention to both composition and concept in her work is apparent. And her singular artistic visions are not realized in solitude—behind the seeming effortlessness of each shot is a team of enthusiastic creatives. It is through these projects, especially demonstrated in To Make A Mirror, that Colvin shows the importance she places on collaboration, as it can be limitless. As Colvin continues to explore new alien landscapes, her eye for the people, objects, and garments she places in that world is essential to their success as images, and we can’t wait to see more.