For some time now, I have been creating a series of images in my studio called the Forest Project. It is a large set in my studio. I am about to pause the project for an indeterminate amount of time. I need to focus on other work, but I also must retrench, I need to rethink the project. I know where I want it go… but until now I have been unable to articulate it, and so it was difficult to communicate to my team what I want to achieve.
The goal is to show strong women, who would challenge the perceptions and self-confidence of men. Beautiful, but hardly available. Not desirable in the conventional ways of modern fashion photography, yet clearly from that universe. Every project I find myself playing with that language more and more. The Witch – the way we see her in the last 150 years – is a German bourgeois concept, the perception of the liberated woman in nature. Nothing is a greater threat than a woman that does not need to rely on a man. These supposedly feral women created a social discomfort – they are free to make their own decisions. It is a continuation of a theme begun as far back as folk tales about the women of the Blocksberg, the Walpurgisnacht, and their contemporaries from other cultures… the Baba Yega for instance.
“To diminish the worth of women, men had to diminish the worth of the moon. They had to drive a wedge between human beings and the trees and the beasts and the waters, because trees and beasts and waters are as loyal to the moon as to the sun. They had to drive a wedge between thought and feeling…At first they used Apollo as the wedge, and the abstract logic of Apollo made a mighty wedge, indeed, but Apollo the artist maintained a love for women, not the open, unrestrained lust that Pan has, but a controlled longing that undermined the patriarchal ambition. When Christ came along, Christ, who slept with no female…Christ, who played no musical instrument, recited no poetry, and never kicked up his heels by moonlight, this Christ was the perfect wedge. Christianity is merely a system for turning priestesses into handmaidens, queens into concubines, and goddesses into muses.”
- Tom Robbins