Toolbox: Scarlett Hooft Graafland’s Dynamite

Scarlett Hooft Graafland favours an explosive tool when taking her high-impact photographs—here she discusses the choice of dynamite for My White Knight.

I often travel to austere places and use typical aspects of the landscape and the local culture to create an installation that I like to photograph. On one of my travels I happened to come across a very special set of tools: sticks of dynamite.

Bolivia not only harbours a vast salt desert, but also has a big mining industry. I discovered that many of the miners, all freelancers without a regular job, bought their mining tools—the dynamite—on the street where it was displayed on the pavement. I decided to also use these tools myself, and thought it would be powerful to explode a load full of salt on the back of a truck and thus instigate an interplay of heaviness and lightness. I travelled to Uyuni, and even further, into the salt desert. One of the miners, Rosendo, helped me out with his truck, which I spray painted completely white. Starting out with small amounts, to make sure the front window would not break, I finally managed to apply the right amount of dynamite to transform the big pile of salt into a highly magical splash.

Image: (Detail) Scarlett Hooft Graafland, My White Knight, 2011, C-type Print
© Scarlett Hooft Graafland, courtesy of Flowers Gallery London and New York