INSIGHTS_10 — When did trees become streetlights?
No matter which part of the world you are based on, it cannot be denied that the natural landscape that everyone used to contemplate during our childhoods, has been altered through the last years. Climate change is an issue that cannot be ignored and it needs to be addressed. In order to understand the big picture, the following artists have been exploring their particular contexts to try to clarify human behaviour with nature.
Landscape, as every natural form, evolves and changes over time, leaving vestiges in the history of the region. These genuine alterations usually enforce the idiosyncrasy of the territory and preserve their historical symbols. On the other hand, people tend to secure territories, establishing boundaries and controlled areas where they can decide what’s needed and what’s expendable. The following projects link these premises and investigate different ways of approaching landscape, its meaning and its historical value.
Olive trees constitute a vital element of the Apulian landscape. These are considered part of the Italian landscape’s historical heritage. Unfortunately, in the last few years this variety was victim of Xylella Fastidiosa, a bacteria that blocks the hydration of the plant and dries them to death. Stefano’s project revolves around what is going to happen with those territories that might not be occupied anymore by the trees in the near future.
Stefano’s investigation consists of three complementary parts on which he reflects and documents the current environmental situation of his region. On Typos, he includes the tree’s own “skins” in order to create an imprint which could be used as a kind of identification document for each one of them. Each trunk and vein from those trees are unique, referencing the past memory and the uncertain future that awaits.
Structured as a dialogue between two interrelated ways of exploring the vastness of the Peruvian Amazon, Aya is conceived as a collaborative project by Arguiñe Escandón and Yann Gross on which they outline an unreal immersion into the density of the forest. Both artists expand their investigation by processing organic photography which connects the historical representation of the Amazon and the sensorial experiences of shamanic encounters.
In Quichua, ‘aya’ means ghost, soul or spirit. This concept is directly related with the symbolism of the jungle and the coexisting entities that inhabit it. Escandón and Gross spent over three years in the Amazon developing this project which comes up as a result of an anthropological approach to what is beyond human consciousness. By living with indigenous communities, both learned about traditional medicines and how to develop a printing technique based on the photosensitive properties of plants.
In the early 1600s some farming families from Finland settled in a forest area situated along the Norwegian-Swedish border. The immigrants came from the eastern part of Finland and were called Forest Fins. The large forested areas were perfect to farm as they used an ancient agricultural method known as slash and burn which generated abundant harvests, but drained the soil quickly. Due to the scarcity of resources of the area, the Forest Finns were forced to migrate.
These expeditions became part of their lifestyle, essential to continue their farming model. Acknowledged as one of the national minorities in Norway, the Forest Finns have changed a lot over the years. Terje Abusdal explores with these series their generational culture, ingrained beliefs and curious rituals as a practical tool of their daily life.
Noémie Goudal’s practice ties down a lot of ideas and techniques at the same time. Moving around complex installations previously filmed, her constructed photographs explore disciplines such as paleoclimatology and geography, and the interconnection between human and natural life. By creating numerous layers of information, her work challenges how landscape is perceived.
A deep and leafy vegetation serves as the background curtain of a staged reality which makes us question the image and find out the optical illusion created by the artist. Indeed that’s what some of Noémie’s photographs are about. Her images not just question the “naturality” of the landscape, but also the way we see photographs and how they portray truth.
Stefano Gio Semeraro (b. 1984, Italy) is photographer and visual artist based in Milan.
His main interest resides on how the landscape has been changed, the importance of documenting the historical evolution and what is its meaning for the contemporary society.
Arguiñe Escandón (b. 1979, Spain) is a photographer with a strong background in psychology.
In her work, she treats issues related to the human being and its relationship with personal and social environments, focusing on the different processes of adaptation, alteration and lastly transformation.
Yann Gross (b. 1981, Switzerland) works with photography, installation and video.
His practice explores the capacity that people has to mould its environment in order to develop a sense of identity. Usually his works deal with the construction of the imaginary based on the desire of escapism.
Terje Abusdal (b. 1978, Norway) is a photographer and visual artist based in Oslo.
Abusdal’s projects normally focus on questioning identity and exploring the concept of belonging to a group. Sometimes his series are located in between fact and fiction, documenting cases that require a personal engagement with the subjects that he studies.
Noémie Goudal (b. 1984, France) is a visual artist based in Paris.
Her works involve the construction of stages and illusionistic installations. Mixing film and photography, she questions the limitations of the theoretical concepts that exist in the natural world. Goudal’s interventions are based in rigorous researches that combine an ecological and anthropological point of view.
Recently, her series ‘Phoenix’ have been presented at Eglise des Trinitaires as one of the solo projects at Rencontres d’Arles 2022.
INSIGHTS is the an initiative by Conceptual Projects that puts the spotlight on artists’ narratives. In Conceptual Projects, we truly believe that collaboration is essential for success and visibility on these days. INSIGHTS was created to bring together photography based projects that explore similar areas of investigation, initiating dialogues between artists and their projects.
Images courtesy of:
Juan Blasco — Founder & Curator of Conceptual Projects