The word for world is still forest*. In the age of Anthropocene, the violent destruction of forests is one of the defining characteristics of our societies. Interestingly, forests are also deeply desirable for rapidly expanding urban environments around the world.
In the photographic project Forest, the British-Chinese artist Yan Wang Preston spent eight years (2010-2017) investigating the politics of recreating forests and the ‘natural’ environment in new Chinese cities. In Chongqing, a city of 30 million people, she followed the developments of the transplanted old trees, the concrete city and its people for eight years, documenting the changes, dramas and lives in the city. She then extended the project to Haidong, capturing the bizarre and wildly-coloured ecology-recovery landscapes. On the way, a series of stories are collected and narrated, that raise questions about the complexity of urban reforestation and nature re-construction in the contemporary era.
Forest won the First Prize, Professional Landscape category of Sony World Photography Awards and the First Prize of Syngenta Photography Award in 2017. It is published as a monograph by Hatje Cantz in 2018. Signed books can be purchased from Preston’s website.
*This sentence is borrowed from the book title by Anna-Sophie Springer (Berlin: K.Verlag, 2017).