Partly inspired by the work of Eugene Atget I photographed in four Parisian Parks: St. Cloud, Parc de Sceaux, Montsouris, and Bois de Boulogne.

Parks and gardens are the embodiment of the paradoxical human desire to shape and commune with the natural world: to maintain the illusion that we can master our environment, and, conversely, to be reminded that we are only a part of the larger web of life. 

In each park the images move between series of ordered (imposed) textures to groups of increasingly tangles of forms (entropic) and back, like pieces of music that at some moments are overtly composed and at others overheard in the wind.

Atget’s work in the parks spanned a few decades, mostly from the first to the middle of the third decade of the twentieth century, right up until his death. He worked with outmoded glass plates even though lighter flexible film was an option. He returned multiple times to photograph different views of the parks for over twenty years. 

Like his work, my photographs record these parks at the edges of disarray and explore the intersection between the fallen and the resurgent. In these places much of the fallen seems associated with expired human aspirations as various flora adapt or take over where we have left off.

These photographs reference the pleasures and pitfalls of wandering alone amongst plants, with the knowledge that civilization is only a short step away. Still, moments of feeling lost, with the ensuing exhilaration and shortness of breath, can be realized: where nothing seems familiar and the threat of annihilation and the promise of rebirth commingle.

The photographs have been made with materials many consider these days to be outdated: rolls of 120 black-and-white silver gelatin film and an electronic strobe powered by a lead battery.

Michael Kolster, 2017