As a child, Swedish photographer Isabella Stahl spent her days with the horses in the stable. She and the other kids in her village swam in the lakes and rivers and hiked through the woods. They munched on candy and explored the landscape surrounding their farms and houses, and one of the children’s dogs usually came along for the journey. They read ghost stories.
The artist’s family moved to the middle of Sweden from Stockholm when she was six years old, and as an adult, Stahl has spent much of her life in cities. She’s lived in New York, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, Oslo, but recently, Scandinavia pulled her back.
“I shoot in Sweden currently because it feels like something I needed to do,” she says, “Make up with my past or something like that.”
Like most adolescents, Stahl longed for adventure when she hit her teens. She wanted to move away and find someplace new, and in some ways, that hasn’t changed. She’s knows her part of Sweden well, but she doesn’t always feel like she belongs. The ambivalence, she thinks, will never disappear.
At night, the artist hops in her car and makes her way through the empty landscape. She likes the dark because she can be alone with the rushing rivers and the sleepy cows and horses. The reality of daytime twists itself into something unfamiliar. Sometimes an owl hoots in the distance. When it’s cold, her fingers freeze.
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All images © Isabella Stahl