In Tree and Soil, Robert Knoth and Antoinette de Jong (NL) follow the transformation of the landscape around Fukushima as a way to investigate the relationship between man and nature. They undertook multiple trips to Japan following the tsunami of 2011. In the deserted landscape, at times they felt like archaeologists from the future: trying to understand what happened in a distant past.
Two centuries earlier, the medical doctor, scientist, and naturalist Philipp Franz von Siebold gathered artefacts, plant and animal specimens, block prints, and paintings in Japan. His collection illustrates how Japanese visual culture is deeply rooted in and inspired by nature. In Tree and Soil, Knoth and De Jong seek connection with the Siebold collection. Their photography, writings and additional texts enter into a dialogue with images from the 19th century of Japanese flora and fauna, which offer us keys to understand the (cultural) landscapes that the authors documented. This creates a new perspective not only on the present but also on the past.
The work of Knoth and De Jong is characterized by an autonomous, modern approach with a focus on long-term documentaries that attempt to uncover the complexity of various socioeconomic topics and their impact on the lives of individuals. In recent years they have taken a more autonomous and contemporary direction in their artistic practice, working with a mixture of photography, text, audio and video. Their projects have been exhibited internationally on multiple occasions
and has received wide recognition and multiple awards.