At first sight, Norbert Schoerner’s photographs seem like studies of individual pine trees standing out against a barren, mountainous landscape of undulating peaks and dark cloud formations. However, closer inspection reveals something unusual. Instead of being rooted in the ground, the trunks of the pine trees end in receptacles reminiscent of the ceramic bowls typically used for growing bonsai trees. The bonsais in Norbert Schoerner’s photographs were cultivated by the Abe family who live in the Azuma Mountains near Fukushima. To create these photographs, Schoerner climbed the mountain and took a series of landscape shots. Placed in front of large-sized prints of these pictures and photographed in the right light, the Abe family’s miniature pines look like fully grown trees.
This visual event combines different chronologies: The topographic formation of Mount Azuma-Kofuji over the course of several geological epochs, the lifecycle of a bonsai that can span several centuries, the exposure time of a photograph, and finally, the independent existence of this picture in the future. However, it is impossible to view these works without considering the ecological effects of the catastrophe that occurred in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on 11 March 2011.