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Endless days in Iceland

Posted by Angela Nelson, Boston.com Staff  December 11, 2009 10:56 AM

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Julia Hechtman spent her summer photographing Iceland. She didn't want to just shoot the majestic landscape; she wanted to make images that were not postcard-perfect but integrated her experience there. She focuses, in her exhibit at LaMontagne Gallery, on figures in the landscape.

Hechtman.jpg Hechtman also took 10 of her favorite movies with her to Iceland, to divide, she says in her artist's statement, summer days that never ended. The films are the ground upon which she builds her photos, borrowing images, or sometimes just moods, from ''Cool Hand Luke,'' ''Harold and Maude,'' and ''Black Robe,'' among others. It's as if in those endless days, she entered a netherworld of filmic dreams and fantasy that even a swift hike couldn't shake off.

The photos are beautiful, with an Iceland summer's diamond gleam. Hechtman's ''Harold and Maude'' quotes a familiar shot of two figures, side by side, seen from behind, here humbled against the backdrop of a forever sky. ''Lost in Translation'' presents an enormous leap, from the Tokyo streetscapes where that film was set to a mossy Icelandic hummock upon which a man sprawls in his parka. No, he's not Bill Murray on his hotel bed, but there's a quality of desolation that's familiar.

These films are a common currency; they bring something familiar to the stark, unfamiliar Icelandic landscape and help us find our place there, alongside the artist.

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