Kalmthout-"quiet wood" in Flemish-is only part of the piece of land that captured Zoe van der ·Haegen's imagination. The artist has devoted several series of photographs to the Campine National Park, but Arbres-Troncs (Trunk-Trees) marks a new chapter in her ever-shifting visual approach to the subject, which had morphed from documentary to artistic.
Zoe artist approaches these burnt trees as the remains of a historical landscape that she has explored many times and knows intimately. Pines are no longer desirable, but they are a relic from the past, a reminder of a now-invalidated form of natural resource exploitation.
Their still, frozen presence stands witness to what was once grown and valued, and ultimately, to the changing fortunes of their species. Their carbonized trunks also hold a totemic significance because of their sculpture like forms, but more importantly, because of what the artist sees in them and the autonomy they acquire as they are separated from their original context.
The history of the park is only one source of inspiration for Arbres-Troncs, which also draws visual elements from late 20st century American Pop art and abstract expressionism in particular inspired the series's unique color palette, solid color backgrounds, repetition of forms, and collages.