Book Review: Wald

Wald, by Michael Lange

In Wald (The Woods), German photographer Michael Lange explores the twilight hours of dawn and dusk in the forests of his country. Gloomy at times, glowing at others, the images present a complex view of the woods. Nothing human ever appears — no people, no houses, no signs, no trash. Lange creates a storybook forest; a forest of dreams. As poet Wolfgang Denkel writes in the book, “This is not a place we go — it is where we have always been, unaware.”

And what are the pictures of ?? Stands of pines, tangles of deciduous branches, ferns, leaves fallen into water. There’s never any direct sunlight — these pictures were made in the hour before dawn and the hour after sunset, when only a long exposure could capture enough light to create an image. Perhaps because of this dim light, the pictures avoid being nature photography. They are more mysterious and muddier than calendar photos of forests. And Lange’s composition, which declines to offer points of attention in the images, makes the work compelling.

Lange dedicates the book to Joko Charlotte Beck, his Buddhist teacher. And his meditative approach to the woods is partly the result of his 20 years of practicing Buddhist meditation — though he stressed in an email to me that the book should be understandable to anyone.

— Willson Cummer

Christina Lange

I am drawn to working on environmental photo stories. What fascinates me the most is the interaction between humans and the wilderness, and how extreme the care for the wilderness can vary between people from the mentality of nurture and bestowing love and care to treating any open space, as long as no one can see you, as a potential for abandoning items one no longer needs. It is this contrast that informs the totality of my work.

This particular project focuses on the sad truth that for some, the wilderness is a convenient place to throw out, discard, leave behind whatever they need to get rid of. That is the story behind Basura – Southwest USA, a most breath-taking area, where unfortunately the eye gets jolted repeatedly by left-behind trash. This is a world-wide phenomena and I continue to photograph other regions I am privileged to travel to.

— Christina Lange, Salton City, California, USA