"Walking alone in the forest recording close up scenes or tableaux, I attempted to reveal the hidden side of nature, the nature we have glorified, forgetting its real harshness and purpose, questioning man’s relationship with the natural environment and man’s response to a lost wilderness."
A fascination with darkness and the unseen haunts the work of London-based photographer Chrystel Lebas (b. 1966, France). Often using a panoramic camera with long exposure times ranging from two to six hours, Lebas creates sweeping, mesmerising landscapes, which explore photography’s relationship with time and movement. Her interest is in looking at how landscapes carry psychological significance and reveal concealed histories. Preferring to photograph during twilight hours, she exploits the magical effects of the particular dipped light to accentuate the ‘sublime’ and draw attention to our place within the natural world. Her work has been exhibited widely and is part of several private and public collections amongst them Huis Marseille, The Victoria and Albert Museum, Bibliothèque Nationale Paris and The Wilson Center for Photography. In 2018 she has won the renonwned Kraszna-Krausz Book Award for Field Studies: Walking through Landscapes and Archives.
For her most recent series, ‘Regarding Forests’ (currently on show at the Wellcome Collection), Chrystel Lebas journeyed to the Olympic National Park’s Hoh rain forest in Washington State, USA, in search of the elusive ‘one square inch of silence’, a place free of human-made noise and she travelled to the southern Japanese island of Yakushima known for its dense Forest of Japanese cedar trees known as ‘Yakusugi’. Immersive panoramic images in forests and wildernesses considering notions of the sublime and our relationship to nature. The works highlight the complexity of these places, showing a landscape controlled by human and at the same time observing natural phenomena occurring at specific time and place.
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