by Trine Søndergaard & Nicolai Howalt, 2008
"I think the tree is an element of regeneration which in itself is a concept of time" Joseph Beuys.
Tree Zone by Trine Søndergaard and Nicolai Howalt is a photographic exploration of the Nordic landscape and ways in which we relate to it. Thematically and formally this work is a continuation of previous projects HOW TO HUNT, DYING BIRDS and HUNTING GROUND.
In a series of images the artists have captured the barren landscapes found in areas along the Nordic timber line during winter. In this marginal land you see solitary trees weighed down by snow. The trees are bent and stunted by their harsh environment. Human forms may appear, but they seem insignificantly small within the vast, white nothingness.
The images represent a humanization of nature: Trees figure as human symbols in a series of ”tree portraits” together with larger panoramic landscapes in monumental formats. In this way a suspense is created between immense, impenetrable space and singular, isolated trees.
These large, colourless images tell a story of defiance, of surviving in spite of ruthless conditions, of being part of a world that you can not fully control or know.
In the Nordic Romantic tradition one finds many depictions of nature as an infinite resource for emotional atmospheres. In Jagt, a previous photographic project by Trine Søndergaard and Nicolai Howalt, traces are evident of this tradition in the interaction between man and nature as a struggle for supremacy. In Tree Zone we find nature in lonely majesty. In pictures from a mountain world that eludes definition, the perspective is on the borderland between lushness and the naked mountain. What is usually called the timberline. It is a serious nature in which one recognizes the gnarled trees' struggle to survive in the tough climate. At the same time these trees have attained a very special dignity. Those which have had the greatest life force in a Darwinian sense. It is odd how these trees receive a special life which imbues them with life as human figures or as linguistic signs. In these photographs nature does not appear as unfathomable and hostile but as something that looks like us, and therefor fathomable.
- text from exhibition catalogue, Charlottenborg, 2008