The Paradise series rejects the usual image of ‘paradise’ as a utopian garden, immaculate and enclosed behind walls. Instead, this paradise is the wilderness of the jungle which appears as the result of unchecked and untamed growth, representing a small section of a broad network extending beyond our view.
Unlike the cityscapes in my previous works, these jungle scenes offer up no sense of perspective or depth. The photos do not rely on the same ordering principles found in the images of urban architecture. However, the expansiveness of each portion of jungle with which we are presented invokes a comprehensive system of growth that could possibly continue ad infinitum.
The sheer clutter of detail in these images presents a kind of empty space: emptied to elicit a stillness and internal dialogue. You have to be able to enjoy this silence in order to communicate with yourself – and eventually with others. The critic Hans Rudolf Ruest says of the Paradise series: “Struth’s photographs seem to extend and intensify this concrete presence in order to trigger the viewer’s transit. Paradise has always been the fictive point of departure for a transformed view of the world. Changed, we grow toward ourselves – and each other – out of the picture’s jungle.”