Yang Yongliang’s series ‘The Peach Blossom Colony’ – an idyllic society in a state of equality and romanticism, residing an illusional and reconstructed settings based on modern reality as a hopeless despair of the lost symbolic carrier of spirituality.
“As modern society rapidly develops, materialism and consumerism gradually corrodes and takes over the world of spirituality, whereas the same concrete buildings and constructions keep replacing the natural green forests. With the human moral standards degraded and corroded by materialistic desires, I believe that this “Land of Peach Blossoms” exists just the same in the subconsciousness of those city-dwellers today who are still in touch with their conscience.”
Yang Yongliang – The Peach Blossom Colony
The idea is based on Tao Yuan Ming’s fable ‘The Tale of the Peach Blossom Colony’ written in 421. It tells a story of a chance discovery by a fisherman of an ethereal utopia where the people lead an ideal existence in harmony with nature, unaware of the outside world for centuries. The road to it was surrounded by blossoming peach trees and covered by peach petals.
The series started in 2008 and took the artist over three years to develop. He portrayed his ‘ancient literati’ dressed in plain clothes to avoid any apparent distinction in class, ranks, wealth or poverty as well as time period, space, and cultural boundaries.
“When viewed from a distance one sees a harmonious and quiet scene, when viewed closely one sees that it is filled with visual disorders of time and space. When one observes at a close distance one would find a lot of metaphorical elements of mechanics and modernization are hidden in the painting. The appearance of these elements immediately shatters the perceived atmosphere of peace and quietness, and produces a tension in the image right away. The originally harmonious elements have experienced a dramatically contrasting change, implying the connections and conflicts between these elements. The emergence of these contradictions expresses my all-time message and reflections on the conflicts between modern constructions and ecology, and between traditional culture and modern lifestyle.”
“The idea for ‘Pearls, tears of the sea’ came to me on the seashore at Camogli after a night during which the waves roared in and a wild storm raged. Next morning I went for a walk along the churned-up beach and was amazed. So much had been washed up on the beach, wood, seaweed, sea urchins, all kinds of flotsam. I took off the pearl I was wearing round my neck and laid it among all these mysterious treasures that had been revealed by the sea. It seemed as if it had always belonged there. Queen of the spume. The project was born.”
The series is published in a photography book with a CD of classical music performed and recorded in Vienna with her friends Jane Henschel, Christoph Prégardien, Herbert Lippert and others, and her husband, the orchestra director Fabio Luisi, at the piano.
“The collection of The Land of Silence is an exclusive experience to spend a night in autumn with overhead clouds of unique character in Shahdad Desert. Experience during which these huge and solid rocks turn on and off in an unbelievable way. Once you look around in horizon you witness one rock standing Alight and the other in the Dark. Deep thoughts are of no use. Boundaries between Illusion and Scientific understanding have faded away.
Images of this collection appear as dream in reality and that I am not certain whether this has taken place. Whatever it is, It has surrounded my thoughts and SOUL far and miles Deep into my very Existence.”
Matthew Brandt’s series ‘Lakes and Reservoirs’ – calendar-like landscape photographs processed by soaking the C-type print over a period of time in water collected from the depicted lakes, in an experimentation of creating a photograph as an image and an art object, and searching for the connection between real and visualized.
Matthew Brandt – Lakes and Reservoirs
“I go get the photographs, get the water, I make the print and then it just sort of sits in water. It feels a little bit like being a farmer, like cultivating crops or something… I’ve always been into the labor-intensive nature of photography … But that’s why I like it. I like the pathos of it.”
Dag Alveng’s series ‘I Love This Time of Year’ – multi-exposure photographs from New York streets interweaving time and space of metropolis like a quantum kaleidoscope with infinite variations of urban reality. Constructed in aesthetic symmetrical cross formed rotations, these photographs broaden the perception and ability to recognize the modern world and focus on the possibilities that acquired special meaning as an individual piece of reality.
Hendrik Kerstens’s life-time project of photographing his daughter ‘Paula’ as a reminiscent of the portraits from the Dutch Golden Age, in a way of expressing his paternal love and in a conceptual and humorous dialog between the daily life in the 17th and in 21st century.
Hendrik Kerstens – Paula
It’s all started in 1995 when Hendrik Kerstens, then at the age of forty, willing to devote himself to a more creative profession, left the business world and took up photography. His wife now had to support the family, whilst Kerstens stay home learning the craft and taking care for their child. For practicing to capture the fleeting moments of childhood, he started with documentary family snapshots, when suddenly he saw his muse from a different perspective.
“One day Paula came back from horseback riding. She took off her cap and I was struck by the image of her hair held together by a hair-net. It reminded me of the portraits by the Dutch masters and I portrayed her in that fashion. After that I started to do more portraits in which I refer to the paintings of that era. The thing that fascinates me in particular is the way a 17th century painting is seen as a surface which can be read as a description of everyday life as opposed to the paintings of the Italian renaissance, which usually tell a story. Northern European painting relies much more on craftsmanship and the perfect rendition of the subject. The use of light is instrumental in this.”
Olaf Otto Becker’s project ‘Reading the Landscape’ – juxtaposing the changes to landscape in the primary forests of Indonesia and Malaysia in three Habitat series – idyllic dreamlike places, ravaged, barren terrains and artificially created greenery. And all as a result of the paradox of the power and interests of the western world to destroy and preserve nature.
Olaf Otto Becker – Reading the Landscape – Habitat I
“Humans destroy primary forests, which have been growing for millions of years, within decades. Within the last thirty years almost ninety percent of the forests in Indonesia have been destroyed and replaced by monoculture. At the same time, humans create a version of nature according to their own imaginations in the megacities of the world, turning nature into a product… My pictures and videos are an attempt to report on what I’ve experienced, on what I’ve seen with my own eyes and what has, for that reason, deeply moved me… While researching the subject, it first seemed to me almost paradoxical that the so-called western world was behind both the destruction of the primary habitats and the attempts to protect them. I saw how both sides in the conflict were using impoverished and poorly-educated local populations for their own interests. For the most part, local people can only powerlessly watch as these dramatic changes take place.”
Olaf Otto Becker – Reading the Landscape – Habitat II
Catherine Nelson’s underwater project of 3 series – Origins (2014), Unstill Life (2015) and Submerged (2015) – a new magical world below the surface, created as interpretations of collected memories of her own experience about particular moments in nature.
Catherine Nelson – Submerged
While visiting a backyard pond in Ghent, Belgium, her attention was drawn to the secret universe beneath the water. “Every time I looked into it I saw something. There seemed to be so many compositional options.” And like a goddess she started carefully to construct her imaginary landscapes of aquatic botanicals intertwined like fantastic creatures turned upwards to the sky. These are hundreds of individual photographs digitally stitched in beautiful collages. “It’s kind of limitless. You can move things around until you’re happy. I find that really exciting.”
Paul Hart’s series ‘Truncated’ (2005 – 2008) – through individual portraits of trees depicting their characters and personalities, the artist captured the spirituality, the primeval and the mystery of an ageing pine forest plantation in Derbyshire, England, as an unaffected by the modern world place of inner peace and infinity.
Paul Hart – Truncated
“A lot of these pictures were taken towards the end of the day when the light was going. It is quite ethereal then. The twilight in the forest appeared to be glowing on the branches of these trees, but only the branches – everything else was quite dark… The tightly knitted images of trees – themselves almost becoming anthropomorphic forms – show an environment where nature has self-created shelter and protection from its own elemental chaos… When you are photographing you look at it closer than normally would and be aware of the character that was portrayed and with a bit of humour I gave them names.”
Ansley West Rivers’s series ‘Seven Rivers’ – “a depiction of the highlights, the beauty, degradation, triumph, solitude and the numerous unseen changes occurring on all rivers in the world, and the importance of watersheds as maps, for they tell the story of civilization past and present.”
Ansley West Rivers – Seven Rivers
Through investigating the current state of the landscape of each of seven rivers that across the United States — the Colorado, Missouri/Mississippi, Columbia, Rio Grande, Tuolumne, Altamaha, and the Hudson, the artist takes us on a journey to remind that rivers are the life sustaining veins of our earth.
“We stand at a precipice in the history of water. How we approach the health and use of our rivers now will determine the lifespan of fresh water. Rivers across the world are experiencing changes in water levels, temperature, wildlife and saltwater intrusion. The series depicts images that are simultaneously beautiful and haunting in an attempt to challenge the viewer’s perspectives on the landscapes that sustain us.”