Dutch photographer Anja de Jong (b. Scheveningen, 1957) spent the years between 1992 and 2001 travelling the world to visit carefully selected areas where the ability of the original natural landscape to withstand the impact of human activity hangs in the balance. Using a large-format camera and black-and-white film, De Jong photographed around sixty such transitional situations, ranging from the tropical regions of Namibia, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica to the mountains of La Palma and Hawaii and the frozen wastes of Iceland, Spitsbergen and Antarctica. The forthcoming Borderland exhibition at the Hague Museum of Photography and the simultaneous publication of a book entitled The Borderland Project mark the end of this prolonged and impressive photographic survey. De Jong’s sharply focused and meticulously framed pictures of the landscape exude an atmosphere of tranquil timelessness, while at the same time unambiguously conveying the complexity of the environmental issues she raises.
The photographer emphasises both the aesthetic and the ethical dimensions of her project: she has been concerned not only to produce a record of the landscapes she has visited in accordance with classic principles of photographic composition, but also to use the resulting photographs to question the point of human intervention in these particular areas of the world. In her new book, she writes: “The outsider behaves like a colonist in search of profit, like a scientist in search of knowledge, or like a tourist in search of adventure. What right does the outsider really have to be here at all?” Anja de Jong graduated in 1981 from the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. Since then, she has worked as an art photographer, a commercial photographer and a lecturer in photography at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. In 1997, De Jong was nominated for the European Architectural Photography Award. In 1998 she exhibited the initial results of her Borderland project at the Dutch Institute of Photography in Rotterdam, and in 2002 work by her was included in the opening exhibition of the Hague Museum of Photography, Photographers in the Netherlands 1852 – 2002. The new book of Anja de Jong’s photographs The Borderland Project is available from the museum bookshop: 188 pages containing 60 duotone reproductions, book design by Reynoud Homan, texts by Anja de Jong, J. Bernlef, Jan Brokken, Tineke de Ruiter and Rik Herngreen (Dordrecht, 2004; ISBN 90-808242-1-6; price € 55). Website: www.anjadejong.nl