06Girl behind win_jpg

© Julia Peirone, Girl Behind Window, from the series Northern Cities, 2005

02Girl and bubble_jpg

© Julia Peirone, Girl and Bubble, from the series Northern Cities, 2005

“One of her more recent projects is titled Northern Lights. The Nordic Photography Centre in Oulu, Finland, chose Peirone to work with a team of photographers to document life in six different northern cities. The purpose of the project was to interpret urban reality and dispel the myth that the northernmost edge of the continent is all Laplanders and reindeer. Peirone and a small group of selected photographers travelled from Murmansk, Russia to Reykjavik, Iceland to Oulu, Finland, amongst other cities, for a year and a half, photographing what they experienced.

For Peirone, the project took on a personal goal as well. She explains, “For me, it was also about confronting my southern roots (being born in Argentina) and the northern mentality (I lived my whole life in Sweden) and then making a personal story about it. During these travels, I took a lot of pictures of people and things without thinking too much, just going by my intuition. Afterwards, I cut them out from their context and put different pieces together, just making an own reality.”

One of the most compelling images from Peirone’s Northern Cities series is Girl Behind Window. A pretty girl, outside and dressed for the cold, breathes from behind a windowpane – you can see her breath against the glass. She looks dreamy and faraway, framed by plants in the windowsill. As viewer, we can feel both the inside and out. The interior speaks of the human effort to create an inviting space – the plants are well cared for in spite of the freezing temperatures outside. The girl is on the cusp of two worlds – we see her from the warmth of indoors, but she is still a part of the cold, physically-intense world outdoors, presumably on her way inside to take refuge from the cold. The scene reminds the viewer of that sudden transfer from outside to in, the quickness with which one can cross boundaries, change one’s reality.

One of the most compelling images from Peirone’s Northern Cities series is Girl Behind Window. A pretty girl, outside and dressed for the cold, breathes from behind a windowpane – you can see her breath against the glass. She looks dreamy and faraway, framed by plants in the windowsill. As viewer, we can feel both the inside and out. The interior speaks of the human effort to create an inviting space – the plants are well cared for in spite of the freezing temperatures outside. The girl is on the cusp of two worlds – we see her from the warmth of indoors, but she is still a part of the cold, physically-intense world outdoors, presumably on her way inside to take refuge from the cold. The scene reminds the viewer of that sudden transfer from outside to in, the quickness with which one can cross boundaries, change one’s reality.

Peirone recalls the context of that photo, what she was doing and thinking about at the time: “I remember in Haparanda, there were no people on the streets. I just saw a lot of houses where people were indoors, looking out from inside. I got this claustrophobic feeling about this emptiness in the town. That feeling in some way inspires Girl Behind Window. But I was also inspired by the feeling I got from a lot of the Russian girls I met, and the passion and desire they have to get out from their home and environment. The dream of something better outside was a very strong feeling throughout the trip, especially in the Russian cities. Maybe the girl in the photo desires something – just wanting to breathe.”

Clayton Maxwell

To see more of Julia’s work click here

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