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Holzwege, the German word for wood-path, refers to paths in the forest that lead nowhere. These paths meander through the woods and end abruptly; you never know where one will take you. Thus, the concept of a wood-path can be seen as a metaphor for life’s uncertainty.

There are points in our lives when we are focused; it is as if we are on a clear path toward our goals. Other times, we feel unsure of where we are heading, or a chosen course ends unexpectedly and we must suddenly reevaluate our direction. I am exploring these ideas in this body of work in which I create ambiguous landscapes through the layering of multiple photographs. I combine the images digitally to create surreal, new spaces where one photograph disappears into the next. These invented landscapes function as metaphors for the universal experience we all have inevitably, when our lives suddenly change; just when you think you know where you’re going, unexpected circumstances dictate a change of plans.

Ultimately the images are meant to be ethereal and optimistic, conveying the sense of wonder that exists when we open ourselves up to new possibilities and realize that change is often fortuitous. While the word holzwege suggests a dead-end, the connotation is not necessarily negative. Rather, the inability to move forward presents opportunities for exploration, transformation, and previously unimagined destinies.

Deborah Orloff

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