MetsästäAnne Golaz(Kehrer , 2012)
The vast ancient forests of Northern Europe have long beguiled generations of writers and artists. Seduced by a foreboding landscape that is shrouded in mystery, the forests are a place haunted by the mythology of antiquity and the icy wintery cloak of darkness. For the outsider, this landscape is a stagnant portal to a lost moment: a time when we were bound to wilderness, the forest providing something more potent than a consumed recreational amusement or a comforting romantic nostalgia.
For Swiss-born photographer Anne Golaz, the isolated forests of Finland (her adopted home) are a foreign and illusive integration of people and place-– a relationship united through ritual and depicted by an autobiographical tapestry of fantasy, fiction and fact: “All that remains here are miserable piles of snow, dirty and shapeless, left to die in forgotten corners. Do you want to know how it all began? What was lying there, mixed up among the first images at the top of the heap? First of all, there was vertigo. Then this forest, its bleak vastness all around like a dark green silhouette made of cut lace. And beyond that, there was mainly the challenge of measuring up to this yawning abyss of freedom.”
The forest governs every frame of Metsästä, and the characters that inhabit it are shackled by its presence. A curtain of darkness provides the backdrop to much of the narrative, a gloom only intermittently broken by the burning of wood, or the barely significant light of a winter’s day. Golaz heightens this suspense with her orchestrated use of artificial light, which is barely able to penetrate the weight of this nocturnal landscape.
Metsästä is the tale of a distant and primitive place inhabited by hunters and the hunted, of dreams and secrets; a landscape and culture that has preserved a precious harmony that for most is long lost and forgotten. This is a fireside tale, of virile characters and magical myths, details of which linger in every shadow, resulting in a work that enthralls in both the wilderness of the narrative and the inventiveness of its delivery.