Rituals and Rainbows



Nature sets the scene: it’s evening, the light is lulling, and the sea is beginning to blend into the sky. The world softens into twilight and the quakes of the day fade into the wisps of night. It is at this moment that Inka and Niclas take their cue and combine innocence and wonder with construction and manipulation. Whether their vision takes the form of a rainbow that ribbons from cracks in the Earth’s surface or the paradox of a rooted apparition in the form of a bundle of sticks walking the tideline, they sculpt the already wondrous world into some- thing fantastic.

Inka and Niclas unify the natural and the supernatural in one vast sweep of their celestial paintbrush. They create otherworldly landscapes filled with magic, the impossible, and a sugar rush of dazzling colors. Nature serves as their backdrop and as their star character; it functions as both an entry point and an intersection. Inka and Niclas balance the dichotomy of colors that are at once hemorrhaging into the landscape and being absorbed by it. The colors speak to one another and to their surroundings. Pink murmurs. Orange howls. Violet weeps. Taking landscape photography as their historical waypoint and borrowing the novel and vibrant vision of the Impressionists and the Fauves, they cultivate terrain that leads us beyond awe and into wonder: these hues appear almost as hallucinations — arresting, lustrous, unnerving.


Their images point to the mythic world, to the place where the secular and divine worlds collide, overlap, mesh. Pulling colors from the heavens and placing them on Earth calls to mind the mythic rainbow bridge Bifröst, which connected the Norse gods’ realm with the world of humanity.

Scholars debate the etymology of the word. The original form of the name, Bilfröst, is akin to “the fleetingly glimpsed rainbow.” If the second form of the word, Bifröst, is correct, however, the meaning would be closer to “the shaking or trembling rainbow.” In either case, the word points to the transitory and delicate nature of the bridge, of rainbows, and of apparitions at large.

The image of Bifröst that is alluded to in Inka and Niclas’ work expresses the significance of the rainbow from a mythical perspective. Bifröst lies behind and within any and every visible rainbow — be it an evanescent and trembling bridge linking earth and sky, or fleeting hues borrowed from the cosmos and embedded firmly in the terrestrial.


A ritualistic component hints at the ancient and everlasting. We see the hand of man in his fundamental crusade for something ethereal and transformative. The result is a landscape that has been lent a ghostly presence; the arrangements of naturally occurring but peculiarly placed elements elicit an eeriness and imminence that is often felt but rarely fully acknowledged in nature. The real and the imagined fuse as a phantasmic flash of light emanates from a blackbird and a star-like alignment of sticks.

In hushed hues of black and white, Inka and Niclas attempt to crack the secret code of nature through their instinctively arranged installations. Robert Smithson’s Yucatan Mirror Displacements are echoed in Inka and Niclas’ mirrors; the difference is, where Smithson placed his mirrors in the landscape to face outward, Inka and Niclas have positioned them to reflect one another. The mirrors engage in mimicry, reverberating the self-contained secrets of nature back and forth in an endless ping pong battle. Yet at times, nature whispers a clue in the form of an arrangement that has already been made perfect.


Inka and Niclas coalesce imagination and materiality. They invoke the origins of man’s intuition and symbolic actions through the meditative and visual powers of the photograph. Temporality is inherent in the work: a swarm of pink smoke and a galloping wave record the passage of time while the act of photographing suspends the endlessly charging moment. The images serve as a repository of the past, of our pagan roots and ancestral relationship with our natural surroundings, while looking ahead to the future.


So where does this leave us? Inquisitive, as usual. The earth is never exhausted of all its secrets, and we never tire of hunting them down, those hot, amorphous enigmas, seeping from the ground, billowing skyward, and dissipating.