/25 Altered landscape

Anna Beeke


Sylvania is a composite “forest-land” of photographs that explores the intersection of nature, imagination, and myth in the American woodlands. Across cultures and centuries, the forest has occupied a unique place in our folklore. Good and evil, chaos and peace, beauty and terror: these oppositions are as fundamental to the forest’s liminal landscape as they are to the human experience. 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. Most of these images occur within the forest, and show humankind’s intrusion on nature: an abandoned satellite dish, moss cut away from a log, a man felling a tree with a chainsaw. But there are also images depicting how our nature and its iconography have been incorporated into the developed world, altering our urban landscapes: trees painted on a water tower, a wall, a door. These are the counterpoint to the myth of man going into the woods, these are the woods coming back with man to civilization. They remind us just how strong the imprint of the forest and wilderness are on the human imagination, no matter how big our civilizations grow.

Sylvania was published as a book last year (by Daylight Books) and can be purchased on Anna Beeke’s website