The People and the Forest: photographs by Yasuo Ota

“WHERE DO WE COME from? What are we? Where are we going?” This was not only the title of a painting by Paul Gauguin, it is also the theme of Gauguin’s whole life as an artist. For the greater part of our history as a species, man has been a hunter gatherer. We recognized life in the forests, the trees, the rivers and beyond, and held respect and gratitude for its existence. However, since the industrial revolution, we have fallen for the illusion that we can control nature. Damaging and destroying nature for our own greed, we have come to a moment when our planet is no longer capable of resisting the strains of our devastating activity.

As we look for a path to guide us toward tomorrow, we may find clues by looking at the way people of the forest have coexisted with nature. For this exhibition, I selected photos from five different countries and regions: Canada, the Chilean Andes Mountains, the island of Borneo, Tasmania, and the Amazon rainforest.

Yasuo Ota previously worked for Kyodo News, Sports Nippon and the Mainichi Shimbun. He has published a couple of books and had several exhibitions, including “Life of the Tropical Forest” (1995) and portraits of mentally disabledgold medal winners of the Special Olympics (2010, New York).