In the Landscape by Donna J. Wan
How does the landscape shape identity? In the past, I have made pictures of the natural world that has been altered by man in some way or another.
How does the landscape shape identity? In the past, I have made pictures of the natural world that has been altered by man in some way or another – from subtle incursions to a near complete annihilation of it. While people were present in some of my previous work, I was concerned more with the evidence of their intervention. They were there in spirit but not in actuality. In this new body of work where people are the focus of my photographs, I am investigating how they relate to and interact with the landscape.
Yet I have intentionally photographed
people from behind, in shadow or at a scale where it is difficult to obtain a clear read of their faces. These “anti-portraits” are not about the individual identities of the people being portrayed but about the viewer’s ability to project him/herself into the picture and experience the landscape vicariously. In Germany, they call this visual phenomena ruckenfigür, a technique pioneered by the 19th century romantic painter Casper David Friederich. By obscuring the identities of the people in these photographs, I am hoping to give the viewer an ability to enter the scene
spread out before him/her. I believe a large part of who we are stems from intangible experiences that are part- lived, part- perceived and part- imagined. And the landscape, especially representations of it, is one vehicle through which this happens.
All images © Donna J. Wan
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