From ADN: ‘Borealis’ contemplates northern forests from new angles
November 19, 2021
Alaska’s northern woodlands feel uniquely Alaskan, from the dense brush and spindly evergreen trees to the distinctive seasonal scents of labrador tea, wild rose and highbush cranberry. But they are also just one part of the system of boreal forest creating a ring around the top of the world -- a region that impacts the climate worldwide and that is changing faster than ever.
A new exhibition at the Anchorage Museum looks to those boreal forests to examine the threads connecting the people of the North — and the ever-evolving questions about what it means to live in a changing world.
“Borealis: Life in the Woods” opened in Alaska Nov. 19 following its premiere at The Hague Museum of Photography in the Netherlands. Organized in part by the Anchorage Museum, “Borealis” features the work of two Dutch storytellers — photographer Jeroen Toirkens and journalist Jelle Brandt Corstius — who undertook a six-year, three-continent exploration of the boreal forests.
Brandt Corstius and Toirkens are longtime collaborators whose previous work includes “Nomad,” a prizewinning book about the nomadic Indigenous people of northern Europe. To produce “Borealis,” the duo expanded their scope to the entire circumpolar North and beyond.
“They decided to visit the boreal forests of the world, which are interesting in the fact that (they are) this enormous total land area on the planet, taking up 11 percent of land on the planet and 29 or 30 percent of forest on Earth,” said Ryan Kenny, deputy director at the Anchorage Museum.
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Image: Jeroen Toirkens (b. 1971) “Donovan,” Broadback Valley, Canada, January, 2018. Cropped Image.