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On Ondonopo, an (not yet) Imaginary World of Ice and Snow

On Ondonopo, an (not yet) Imaginary World of Ice and Snow

This week’s PhotoGenie theme is titled Artificial Nature.

Through visual stories our curators research the question “In what ways are we creating an illusion of nature?”

Tamar van Haastrecht studied at the Royal Academy for Art in The Hague, NL. As part of her graduation project, she created a photo series called ‘Ondonopo’: a visualization of an imaginary world that was born out of a bedtime story told by her father. With this series, she criticizes the limited effort done to save the real ‘Ondonopo’ - the North Pole as we know it - from the effects of global warming. The photos illustrate how mankind is substituting nature with plastic and creating an illusion of icy ecosystems.

Ondonopo is an imaginary world that exists underneath the ice on the North Pole. It is a magical place with fantastic creatures, that is based on the photographer’s childhood imagination. To question the actions and inactions of mankind with regards to the effects of global warming on our polar areas, Haastrecht decided to turn her childhood fantasies into a photo series.

Would we take more action to stop global warming if a place like Ondonopo would exist? Or would it be underappreciated as the North Pole is now? Does nature have to serve some kind of purpose, for an effort to be made? And will we be able to create our own artificial nature, if the one we have slowly disappears?

Van Haastrecht’s series was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague from the 6th-12th of July 2018. After graduating, she decided to extend the series with more photographs. After visiting Christmas markets and garden centers throughout winter, Tamar found that the polar areas gain importance during the holiday season. She saw that polar creatures and snowy mountains cover Christmas cards and other December holiday decorations. In the added photographs, she investigates the illusion of nature created by artificial sceneries of the North Pole, and the collisions between worlds of icecaps and human-made technology.

‘Ondonopo’ shows us how boundaries between what we can create and what we cannot, are getting vague. The essence of nature is that it is not created by humans, something we cannot dominate or control. As we are designing an artificial version of nature, we are doing so without this key component. What is the value of self-made nature? And isn’t it ironic that we print images of icy landscapes on plastic, while these kinds of plastics are destroying the real icy landscapes? Real nature cannot be entirely replaced by an artificial substitute, because nature can only be natural when it isn’t designed. So, how far can we then go with the illusion of nature that we create?

About the artist: Tamar van Haastrecht is a young Dutch photographer, born in Hoofddorp. She studied photography at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, NL and graduated in 2018.

Check out Tamar van Haastrecht’s full body of work at www.cargocollective.com/tamarvanhaastrecht or on Instagram @tamarhaas

Let us know what you think in the comments!

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Written by Myrthe Peek

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