Kahmann Gallery is proud to present the solo exhibition of Jeroen Toirkens (NL, 1971), Borealis: Halfway. Borealis is a collaborative project with renowned journalist and writer Jelle Brandt Corstius (NL, 1978). The exhibition marks the halfway point of this impressive feat of slow journalism.
For Borealis, Toirkens and Brandt Corstius are capturing the stories of the boreal forests and the people who inhabit them. The boreal forest (also known as taiga) is a circle of mostly coniferous trees stretching across northern Europe, Asia and North America. It is the largest vegetation zone on earth and makes up around 30% of the total forested area. Boreal forests convert carbon dioxide into oxygen on a massive scale. Together, the Amazon rainforest and the boreal forest act as our earth’s lungs. Yet less than twelve per cent of these forests are a protected area. Toirkens and Brandt Corstius made various trips to the boreal forests, starting in 2016, and will continue until the end of 2019. Working from a base location, they explored the wider area surrounding it, actively searching the forest for the stories that lie hidden within.
Since time immemorial, humans have been fascinated with forests, and the images from Toirkens and the words of Brandt Corstius perfectly echo this. They describe that moment you step in between the trees and you feel something change inside. There is a shift in the air and the tree trunks, bushes and leaves muffle sounds. The forest is a place where you can feel safe, enveloped by tall trees, the calming rustle of leaves or to find shade during a hot summer’s day. But the forest can also be a mysterious, and even frightening, place. Tales of bandits lurking in the dark woods have kept children awake for as long as humans have been dwelling in the forests.
The ultimate aim of Toirkens and Brandt Corstius is to describe the physical forest in words and pictures, whilst also seeking out the philosophical meaning of the woods that surround us. What effect does it have on you to live for years in a wide expanse of forest? From firefighters in Siberia, who risk their lives to protect the vast forests, to lumberjacks in Norway and scientists in Japan, everyone is left touched by these vast areas of trees.
The series is a reminder to us that we are but a small part of their long histories and how vital they are to our existence, yet we are the very source that is responsible for its slow destruction.
Jeroen Toirkens is educated as a photographer at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and has been working as an independent photographer and filmmaker since 1995. He focuses on social documentary photography and slow-journalism and has published extensively in national and international newspapers and magazines. He has earned many accolades during his career, including First Prize at the Silver Camera in 2009. He has published multiple books, most notably Nomad, where he followed nomadic tribes on the northern hemisphere. Toirkens’ work has been included in many private and public collections.
Jelle Brandt Corstius is a renowned Dutch journalist, novelist and television presenter and producer. From 2005 to 2010 Brandt Corstius lived in Moscow, where he worked as a correspondent for Trouw and De Standaard. He gained widespread fame in 2009 with his tv show on daily life in modern Russia Russia From Moscow to Magadan, followed by From Moscow to Murmansk in 2010. After this, series on a variety of subjects and places followed, including India, Sotsji, the aftermath of the Krim Crisis in 2015 and robots and artificial intelligence. Brand Cortius presented the prestigious tv programme Summer Guests in 2010 and 2011. He has published numerous books, many on the subject of travel, but he also published the more personal Hugo’s Ashes in 2016, on the bicycle tour he did to process his father’s deat