Hercynia Silva

Hercynia Silva explores the relationship between  nature and culture, the forest and the city, and bestial and juridic freedom. 

Hercynia Silva. 2021, mixed media, 175 x 285 cm.

Hercynia Silva was located east of the Rhine in the southern part of present-day Germany. The present Schwartzhwald is a remnant of its western parts. Ancient sources mention that it was inhabited by unicorns as well as other fable creatures, such as birds, whose feathers shine at night like fire. Germanic areas began on the other side of the forest. In this way, the forest also served as a kind of wall that separated the Roman territories from the barbarian lands.

When Rome was founded, Romulus first cleared a square in the woods of Palatinus Hill, and then built a wall around it. He inhabited wanderers dwelling in the woods, living apart from other human communities. Rome was thus initially a kind of refuge for the vagabonds. Later, Rome grew into a city, and then a civilization that subjugated other cultures.

The city and the forest are, if not quite opposites of each other, then at least very different states of mind. The city is dominated by man, the forest flora and fauna. Around the cities, before the actual forest, there is usually some kind of intermediate space; crops, orchards and pastures. This res nullius is an intermediate terrain where forest and city mix. Both the forest and the city tend to expand into this intermediate space. You can also get lost in both.

There is a bestial freedom in the forest, where man is only one species among others. The city, in turn, enjoys juridical freedom, defined by man-made rules and hierarchies. What is accepted in bestial freedom, is often a taboo in juridical freedom. The deeper you go into the city center, the more controlled the code is, and the deeper you are in the forest, the less its impact will be.

But originally human being came from the forest… and founded the city.