Snorri in Reykjavík. Photography Grace Ahlbom.

luminous photos of skaters and icelandic volcanoes by grace ahlbom

The Brooklyn photographer shares a preview of her upcoming zine “Why Can't We Be Friends?”

by Alice Newell-Hanson
15 September 2017, 8:14pm

Snorri in Reykjavík. Photography Grace Ahlbom.

"The way people choose to spend their time when feeling bored says a lot about who they are," photographer Grace Ahlbom believes, "and I want to capture their essence through that medium." Grace grew up in Marin County, California shooting her friends hanging out and goofing around on BMX tracks. And that interest in documenting what we do in our down time has persisted. Her thesis show at Pratt last year was a shrine to hours spent in skateparks: her portraits of male friends and acquaintances were complemented by still lifes of apple bongs, pen knives, and basketball cards.

"Sasha turns away from his concert at The Bowery Ballroom in New York to give me a private show." — Grace

Her new zine, published by Dashwood Books, offers insight into how her friends kill time on different continents. Launching next weekend at the New York Art Book Fair, Why Can't We Be Friends? collects portraits and landscapes Grace shot in her hometown, New York, as well as on trips to Los Angeles, Reykjavik, and Tokyo.

"After seeing the Kerry James Marshall show at The Met Breuer, Sage and I took a walk through Central Park across the street." — Grace

Taken on late-night walks in Central Park, hikes in the San Fernando Valley, and near Icelandic hot springs, Grace's images are luminous. They combine a sense of unfiltered spontaneity with artful composition. She also knows a thing or two about color. She captures her friend Snoori's purple hair dye staining his pale face and hands violet. A heart-graffitied tree in Temescal Canyon lit up in orange. Snorri again glowing green like an extraterrestrial.

"Sunrise over a geothermal field in Iceland."— Grace

Grace has also been exploring the access that having a camera allows her. "Photography has become my role in situations like on stage at a concert, out watching people skate, or participating in things that otherwise I wouldn't envision myself as an active participant of," she says. One shot shows Sasha Carlson of Splashh on stage at Bowery Ballroom, turned towards her in a private moment. Another captures the ephemera-plastered equipment closet at the venue, which she snuck into with her camera before the show.

"Why Can't We Be Friends?" will be released at the New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1, September 22 to 24. There will be a signing at Dashwood Books on September 28, 6-8 pm.

"This is the equipment closet of The Bowery Ballroom, where I hid from security as they cleared everyone except for the band off of the stage before the show." — Grace
"While on a hike in Temescal Canyon, Los Angeles, I noticed this tree carving with two A's etched into the bark."— Grace
"Ojiro invited me over to his apartment while I was in Tokyo. We talked about music and his Ramones cover band."
"Lucas looked toward a scrap yard of old cars and fire trucks which could have doubled as the set of a horror film in Chatsworth, Los Angeles." — Grace
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