Across cultures and centuries, the forest has occupied a unique place in our collective imagination. Light and dark, good and evil, chaos and peace, body and soul: these oppositions are as fundamental to the forest’s liminal landscape as they are to the human experience. There are countless histories and myths that involve humankind venturing beyond the structured limits of civilization into the chaotic labyrinth of the woods. So, like many before me, I went into the woods hoping to find adventure, transcendence, or unknown. While I am totally out of the woods yet, I have returned from my arboreal outings with Sylvania— a composite “forest-land” of photographs comprising scenes from various and sundry American woodlands. Through images of both real and depicted nature, Sylvania examines the differing characteristics of these woods while also seeking the Forest Universal rooted in them all; it explores both the fanciful and the real-world magic of the forest, both its metaphoric and physical presence in the contemporary world.
Anna Beeke is a documentary and fine arts photographer. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts. Her project Sylvania has won several awards and grants, including the Syngenta Photography Award’s Judge’s Choice (2013), the Magenta Flash Forward Competition (2013), the WIP/LTI Lightside Materials Grant (2012), and the Alice Beck-Odette Scholarship (2012). Most recently it was a finalist in the 2014 Daylight Photo Awards, receiving a Juror pick from Julian Cox, chief curator of the De Young Museum. For her project Amsterdam, NY, Anna was a recipient of the 2010 too much chocolate + Kodak Film Grant and included in reGeneration2, a book and exhibition curated by Switzerland’s Musee de L’Elysee that travelled to 19 cities in 11 countries over the course of five years. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally on five continents since 2009. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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