2015 - Ongoing
City of London, England, United Kingdom
In response to the imposing and extractive Land Art of the 1960s & 1970s, artist Judy Chicago once said: “I was and am horrified by the masculine built environment and the masculine gesture of knocking down trees and digging holes in the earth”.
There is a long history of women photographers, film makers and performance artists choosing to embrace nature in their work as a way to recoil from this kind of art, and Selina Mayer’s series The Forest continues this tradition.
Began in late summer 2015, The Forest is a conscious departure from masculinity and modern life, both in medium and in subject matter. The subjects are nude, but it is an unselfconscious and primordial nudity, reclaimed from the male gaze and with a softness and intimacy to the images rarely captured in a male lens. They are in nature and a part of it; they aren’t conquerors of the natural world, they are skyclad witches and exultant earth goddesses in communion with nature, vulnerable yet unafraid. The distinction between the human figures and the non-human natural elements has become blurred and the artificial divide between individuals and their landscapes erased. And yet the models remain people, as unique and individual as the environments they are a part of, not anonymous figures bereft of identity.
Shot entirely on film and processed and printed by hand by the artist, the series makes use of now antiquated processes to draw attention to the tactile and physical qualities of the images and the subjects within, in an age where photography is everywhere yet mostly incorporeal and ephemeral. The texture of the film grain echoes the unairbrushed skin textures; the stray processing artifacts reflect the unaltered natural imperfections of the models and the environment.
The images of The Forest recognise that the relationship between body and land is something elemental. They are an expression of freedom and of liberation of spirit, continuing a tradition stretching back generations. The series is ongoing.