The disguise of night often calls back these pictures of the past
The disguise of night often calls back these pictures of the past

VIEWS OF NATURE (coming 2024)

In 'The Tree' (1983), John Fowles delves into how, since the emergence of ecology as a discipline and the subsequent categorisation, measurement, and documentation of nature, humanity has gradually distanced itself from what once was a harmonious ecosystem. This rationalisation has, in many respects, ushered us into the Anthropocene. The pursuit of understanding has resulted in attempts at control and domination, and our arrogance may prove costly.

The father of ecology, Alexander von Humboldt, embraced a different approach—one rooted in awe and reverence. Despite laying the foundations for a scientific discipline, Von Humboldt wrote poetically about the enchanting and intricate facets of nature, being one of the first to perceive the profound interconnectedness of all things.

Drawing inspiration from Von Humboldt's eponymous essays, Views of Nature aims to visualise his narrative while embarking on a fictional expedition. Through the decontextualisation of taxidermy juxtaposed with scenic landscapes, the artist breathes life back into the inanimate. By juxtaposing these preserved specimens with landscapes, a stark contrast emerges, emphasising the scarcity of authentic, living nature in the local environment. The taxidermy, in its lifeless state, serves as a poignant reminder of the absence of vibrant ecosystems in The Netherlands. Employing an intimate photographic approach, viewers are invited to reimagine these animals within the natural environments depicted by these landscapes, while subtly questioning the symbolic relationship between humanity and nature that taxidermy embodies. The resulting world resonates with wonder, tenderness, and empathy, encouraging exploration and sharing of Von Humboldt's poetic perspective as if embarking on a shared journey.

Using cyanotypes the artist pays homage to the work of Anna Atkins, a nineteenth-century botanist coeval to Von Humboldt. Atkins is renowned for her cyanotype prints that categorised and documented plants for scientific contributions. By using her technique, the artist constructs a narrative that opposes the prevailing rationalisation of nature, advocating for a new paradigm of collaboration and equality between humanity and the natural world, as opposed to domination and exploitation.