The Magic Tree

The Ravestijn Gallery presents ‘The Magic Tree’, a solo exhibition by Marie-José Jongerius, featuring seven large-format prints from her ‘Edges of the Experiment’ series.

Marie-Jose Jongerius - Claremont (CA) 2004 - courtesy The Ravestijn GalleryMarie-José Jongerius, Claremont (CA), 2004

The Southwestern United States has always been the setting for dreams. Pioneers and prospectors, engineers and industrialists, orange- and oil farmers, filmmakers and photographers: they made the trek West to seek their fortune. A few succeeded, millions stranded prematurely. Every attempt left new marks in this mythical landscape spanning from the Pacific Ocean to the mountain tops of Sierra Nevada down to the Mojave Desert.

In 1999 the Dutch photographer Marie-José Jongerius (1970) left for Los Angeles with the mission to photograph writers, actors and directors. With each car ride to a new photoshoot her fascination grew with the relentless attempt by the Americans to control this Californian landscape. For over ten years she has photographed places where human imagination and the force of nature interact, from artificial lakes to the edge of the advancing desert.

In the pruning of the Californian landscape Jongerius uses trees as the mark of this battle. Displaying them as endearing rather than majestic, paying tribute to the resilience of nature. From the trees that lasted through the wrath of a forest fire, to the eucalyptus tree that sits on the edge of a lush green golf course overlooking the sparse desert below. What becomes apparent in these landscapes is the battle between ideals and the reality of the dessert. Import of foreign plant species that demand more water then native species resulted in a landscape that became dependent on man. This is were Jongerius’ images sit, between manmade innovations and the ever expanding desert. “Her photographs are not a simple dialectic of culture versus nature,” Californian author William L. Fox wrote about her work, “but rather the interface where we can see something that is neither.”

Exhibition: Marie-José Jongerius, ‘The Magic Tree’, January 16 – February 27, 2016, The Ravestijn Gallery, Westerdoksdijk 603-A, 1013 BX  Amsterdam