On view Nov. 19, 2021 - Oct. 9, 2022

From 2016 to 2019, photographer Jeroen Toirkens and journalist and television presenter Jelle Brandt Corstius visited the forests of the boreal zone for their Borealis project. This region is known by different names: Americans and Canadians call it the Great Northern Forest or the boreal forest (from borealis, Latin for northern), while the Russians call it taiga, a word borrowed from one of the nomadic peoples who inhabit the coniferous forests of Siberia. It is the largest vegetation zone on earth and can rightly be called a world forest: it stretches from Alaska to Russia via Canada, Scotland, Scandinavia and Japan, covering 17.5 percent of the earth’s surface and containing 30 percent of the world’s trees.

These vast forests are invaluable for a range of reasons. Aside from their awe-inspiring beauty, they are Indigenous land for many in the region and provide habitats for a wide variety of animal and plant species, and constitute the largest carbon dioxide sink on earth after the oceans. They are therefore of immense importance for the planet’s ecological balance. Even so, their value is little known, and less than 12 percent of the forests have protected status. They are threatened from all sides: from commercial logging, invasive plant species, and rampant forest fires.

Borealis charts the journey that Toirkens and Brandt Corstius made through the region in eight chapters, each highlighting the stories of the forests and people who live and work in them. Now that the effects of climate change can be seen and felt more clearly, especially in the High North, these stories are more important than ever before.

Borealis: Life in the Woods is organized by the The Hague Museum of Photography (Fotomuseum Den Haag) in the Netherlands and the Anchorage Museum. The Borealis project is supported by the Anchorage Museum’s Polar Lab program.

Borealis: Life in the Woods video courtesy The Hague Museum of Photography (Fotomuseum Den Haag)


This program is supported as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York. Additional support provided by Jan and Jeri van den Top and Mondriaan Fund.

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