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Donna J. Wan: 2014 Finalist

In the Landscape explores the ways in which people experience, react, or interact with the landscape. In the past, I have made pictures of the natural world that has been altered by man in some way or another—from subtle incursions to a near annihilation of it. While people were present in some of my previous work, I was concerned more with evidence of their intervention. They were there in spirit but not in actuality. In this body of work, people are the focus.

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“Yet I have intentionally photographed people from behind, in shadow or at a scale where it is difficult to obtain a clear read of their faces. These “anti-portraits” are not about the individual identities of the people being portrayed but about how people “fit into” (or not) the landscape. For this series, I was inspired by the paintings of the nineteenth-century German Romantic landscape painter Casper David Friederich, who painted people from behind to allow viewers to project themselves into the scenes before them and experience the landscape vicariously, technique called ruckenfigür. By obscuring the identities of the people in my photographs, I hope to give my viewers a similar experience, to imagine themselves into these sometimes overwhelming, calm, peculiar, mundane, social, or lonely landscapes.”—Donna Wan


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