Peeter Laurits

In 2000, Arne Maasik started to systematically photograph underbrush, and during seven years, the series named “Tangles” continually grew and formed an increasingly prominent part of this work. Based on what is being depicted, these underbrush pictures could be categorized as nature photos. Actually, Maasik is clearly detached from this tradition and controversial—destructive of the genre. /—/ He photographs nature like architectural photographers photograph buildings. /—/

Eero Epner

/—/ As another important layer of meaning, it is important to note the linking of nature and architecture, both within the series as well as in the general whole, in which the so-called tangles series is one of the longest lasting and largest in number. Here, one could assume a classical confrontation between natura and cultura on the one hand, and their harmony on the other (which could recall the 12th century described by George Duby, when stone rose blossoms, climbing plants, etc. self-evidently forced their way onto the portals of the cathedrals). One can assume that architectural forms are seen in nature and vice versa, the so-called “universe in a nutshell” rhetoric, although it may be simpler to see an interest in various environments and spaces in Maasik’s pictures. This interest is that of an architect, metaphysician, and photographer, for whom nature primarily provides an opportunity to see unexpected possibilities for organizing space, which is why his works owe a debt to classic picturesque views. As a nature photographer, Maasik is a democrat who gives equal voice to promontory tips and underbrush, to overgrown meadows and seashores. /—/

Everyday poetry, an ability to see the value of small things, makes our lives bearable. Without interruptions, diversity and eccentricities, the environment would have no meaning, and therefore no significance.

One can agree with Arnold Berleant, a leading figure in environmental aesthetics, when he says that the environment creates us and we create the environment. At the same time, one need not experience majesty only in the desert or on a glacier, it’s also possible in “ordinary” places, “The experience of nature’s infinity does not surround us, it dissolves us in ourselves.”

In addition to majesty and acting as a kind of underworld, the underbrush presents other approaches. As a rule, underbrush is chopped down as an inconvenient and cluttering assemblage, in order to create a more orderly and useful landscape. Therefore, the underbrush symbolizes chaos, fear, wildness, as well as nature in general. The underbrush-tangles contain a nostalgic undercurrent—people tend to forget that nature is natural. There is no insulated humanity. Humanity is also natural.