Cooper & Gorfer’s Weather Diaries


Often we are observers. Coming to another culture, even if you don’t want to be, by nature, you are different – the further away from your own cultural home, the more obvious this indifference and therefore your observing role becomes.

But we also noticed that with some of the people you meet, you overcome that abyss of cultural differences and meet as two people. It is based on curiosity for the other person, and more importantly, on recognition.

You are touched by someone in your life, because you recognize and because you relate. It is the same with people we meet on our journeys. Those who leave the strongest impression and often become muses in our work, are the ones we could connect to emotionally. This is when we stop observing and start to relate. When we then show our images, we strive for that same recognition – a momentum that lets the viewer not see the cultural di erences, but feel an emotional connection with the image because it touches them. To be touched you need to be able to relate. And to relate you need to recognize something in that picture or person that is already within you. So in our work we do and experience both, the role of observers, and the role of friends.


“You are touched by someone in your life, because you recognize something and because you relate.”


A photograph shows us the outside, rather than the inside. It shows us what we can see with our eyes, not necessarily what we can perceive in a moment or about a person. In that sense, photography is limited in its ways of expression. Because even if you stage your photograph and meticulously decide and design all the details, from light to the decisive moment and the composition… you are still bound to the rules of our physical world.


But this is not how perception, intuition, memory or emotions work. So in our work, instead of being true to what we see, we extend, supplement, deconstruct and layer our images, to portray something we cannot see
– the insubstantial and intangible. We want to transcend the life and sentiments of the person photographed and engage the viewer. This is an essential part in our process. A good image is as much about the one looking at the image as it is about the one portrayed. There must be a connection; otherwise you will walk away from an image, uninvolved.

So our work, when seen as strict photography raises all these questions about what is real versus what is manipulated, what is digital and what is analogue, and alteration versus “the truth”. But we find ourselves not working under the paradigm of the medium of photography, as it is perceived today. We are aware of the lines of de nition for classical photography. But our work does not follow this line and therefore disappoints the one who wants to believe that what might be de ned as “real” in a photograph is completely non subjective.


If you look at our work as not photographic, you will find yourself in new territory. In that sense, we often feel more akin to painting than we do to photography. The digital process is one of our tools – in the end, everything comes together in the computer. This tool must be mastered just like any analogue process. Like with paint and brush, or in the dark room, you will have to nd your own expression within a given technology.


“With photography we can be collectors. So we take documents of reality – they undergo a transformation.” 


When we started to collaborate as artists, photography was our shared skill and quickly became our main tool of expression.

Photography is still a relatively young medium and it is constantly changing. The rapid succession of technological inventions opens for new ways of expression, but also continuously alters the very substance of the medium. As an artist, to not only be able to experience, but also be part of the development of a medium or creative era, is very tempting.

On a more practical level, photography allows us to interact with people in a more immediate way. Even though our photographs are staged, we still work relatively quickly and spontaneously during our project travels. Photography allows us to meet a person one day and do a succession of portraits of this person the next day. We can also photograph the dog of the house, the pattern of the tapestry on the walls, the mist coming in early in the morning… with photography we can be collectors. So we do take documents of reality, if such a thing exists, but they undergo a transformation.


And maybe it is this that we find so compelling – the notion that reality only exists in this very moment and that once you remember a certain moment, your subconscious has already altered it, blended it together with moments that came before or after, forgotten some details, added some emotion, saturated it with meaning or forgotten it altogether… We like the idea that the photograph of a real situation undergoes the same change – and that we somehow can make this visible in our work.”


As told by Sarah Cooper and Nina Gorfer.  

‘Weather Diaries’ is currently showing at  Nordic House, Reykjavik.  


Cooper& Gorfer’s work is represented by

@ Cooper & Gorfer 

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