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Maika: I cannot get enough of photographs that transports me out of myself, photographers whose lenses serve as liminal zones that draw me in and make the world around me fall away as I’m drawn through a portal of their own creation. Nona Limmen is one such photographer. Would that I could afford to surround myself with her photos. For now, the occasional print and many an online reverie will have to do.
Dutch photographer Nona Limmen is based in Amsterdam, but her marvelous analog photos capture visions of a vast, mystical world nebulously bordering our own. This mysterious land, woven of dreams and memories, is inhabited by powerful women, liminal creatures wielding arcane forces so great they sometimes fracture their very being.
Some of Limmen’s women are eldritch pagan priestesses conversing in whispered chants with the forests, mountains, and all the creatures under their aegis. They are fluent in the language of the wind and the ground beneath their feet speaks to their very bones.
Others are shapeshifting damsels residing in gorgeously ruined castles. These women write their own fairy tales. Their predilections and appetites are peculiar and they’re in need of no one’s rescue.
Then there are Limmen’s solitary phantom queens, forever roaming their kingdoms of vast moors, primordial forests, and barren plains. These enigmatic monarchs are at once as insubstantial as smoke or mist and solid as towering cliffs. Their solitude should never be mistaken for loneliness.
Nona Limmen’s incomparable women are creatures born of folklore, mythology, and the collective unconscious. Her haunting photos capture them as they dance along the borders between our world and theirs. Perhaps, if you approach with just the right offering, one of them might grant you a glimpse or even passage into their realm, part dream and part nightmare. But don’t count on coming back.
As I write these words members of marginalized communities are gathering around the US, led by WOC, and the wider world in the tens and hundreds of thousands to march and make their collective voice heard in protest of the election of a federal government that does not consider, represent, or protect us. The unprecedented scale of this global demonstration is such that I suspect even Nona Limmen’s liminal womenfolk have noticed and turned their enigmatic gaze toward us in solidarity.
‘…in Sabat Magazine’s Spring/Summer 2016 Maiden issue, Jas Helena observes an increased interest in occult aesthetics in young women today, and that through Instagram and other social media, the aesthetic becomes more accessible. “I see a community of bold women growing from it,” she concludes, mentioning artists Annie Stegg and Nona Limmen in this spirit, “that becomes even more important in the art world where this dark aesthetic is still an uneven playing field, dominated by men.”’
The work of artists such as Nona Limmen has the potential to inspire and empower people at a point in history when it’s more important than ever that we find our individual and collective strength.