Artist's Statement

Julya Hajnoczky

Archival pigment prints, 54”-78”H x 36”-48”W

My artistic practice seeks to engage in a critical examination of human relationships with the natural world and how ecosystems are changing in our current era, by imagining and creating possible nearfutures and future landscapes. Adopting and adapting the practices of scientific investigators, I collect specimens following ethical foraging practices from natural environments. I spend time investigating ecosystems and the connections within them, particularly via site visits and consultation with scientists and lay experts. I then produce large-scale still life images using a high-resolution scanner as my camera: the specimens collected from each site are arranged together on the glass, composing intimate portraits of ecosystems. The photographs, printed at a very large scale on a smooth, matte paper, exhibited unframed, allow the viewer to get an unusually close look at each object. The images are elegiac, dark, mourning, representing not contemporary specimens but rather, recontextualized, some last remaining pieces of a fragmented world, floating in the void, evoking a sort of future nostalgia.

With the constant drumbeat of natural disasters, species extinctions, and climate crises going on in the background, it seems that change for the better may be out of reach. Has science failed to convince the world of the precarious balance that we now exist in? In the quest to investigate and describe the world with scientific detachment, we ignore the fact that science is both shaped and limited by our narrow human perspective. We have forgotten that our relationship with nature must be equitable, reciprocal. In creating these images I use photography’s singular ability to freeze time, to direct the viewer’s deep attention to the details and intricacies of natural ecosystems, but also to provoke questions about our species' seemingly insatiable drive to take, to possess, to bend the natural world into human form. We are all complicit, even I, an artist who seeks to cast a most tender gaze upon the world.