In his series Terra Nova, the internationally active photographer Egbert Trogemann turns his attention to the Hambach Forest. This name stands for one of the oldest and most diverse forests in Europe as well as for the destruction of nature in favor of coal-mining and profit. In his artistic investigation, Trogemann presents the impact of the clearing of the forest as well as instances of the struggle against that destruction as an expression of power structures and simultaneously as precursors of a future world oscillating between utopia and dystopia. The pictures, taken between 2018 and 2021, show temporary buildings erected by environmentalists as well as a bizarre observation deck set up by the energy company and offering a view of this new world—the series takes its title from the same-named slogan of the company. Simultaneously, the poetical black-and-white photographs summon up associations with magical, primal moments and raise underlying questions.
In view of the special role of the forest for German national identity, for example in Romanticism or in the Grimm’s fairy tales, the question arises as to how this forest clearance should be interpreted in an era of far-reaching political, climatic and social uprooting and reconfiguring.
The publication presents a selection of photographs in connection with an essay by Reinhard Spieler, art historian and director of the Sprengel Museums Hannover. He writes that the photographer proceeds “like an archaeologist who derives from the scanty traces of the past points of reference for the reconstruction of the ways of life characteristic of past cultures.”