Bastiaan van Aarle

Bastiaan van Aarle is a 26-year old Belgian photographer, who is inspired by both nature and our society. Starting from strolling through the woods with his camera when he was a kid, his interest slowly shifted more towards how our society has an influence on these landscapes. What do we do to it and how do we want to control it. Do we have total control or does nature fight back? The photographs resulting out of this, show the struggle between the two: the fight to survive or the power to submit. Today we take a look at Bastiaan series titled Interactions.

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A new place, a new adventure and a new map. Most of Bastiaan van Aarle’s works start like this. He get’s to a new place, most of the time where he knows little or nothing of and goes to buy a map. This piece of paper helps him to form a certain idea of the place and what spots might be interesting to photograph. Is it hilly, are there a lot of quarries and rivers or is it just flat with a lot of fields?

This particular project situates in the first group. It’s a hilly region with a lot of quarries, rivers and houses. We’ve arrived at South Wales and what it used to be famous for is it’s mining history.

Everything changed after the collapse of the mining industry. There were riots, poverty and a high number of people who lost their jobs. This change triggered Bastiaan to go to these places. How does it look now? Is everything abandoned? Is nature taking over again? And how will he photograph it? Luckily the history of the region was not forgotten. There is a trail that follows the old routes of how the coal came from the harbour to Cardiff. By following these routes Bastiaan started to photograph.


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He is always looking for how society interacts with nature and visa versa. The proof of these interactions isn’t always immediately visible. It is hidden in the details and you have to look for them. For instance a forest that doesn’t look out of the ordinary is suddenly altered by the kids living close by. They use tree branches and twigs to make their camp. The trees get a new purpose, but when the kids grow up and leave, than nature will change it back. It will take it over like the bridge that became out of use.

This pulling back and forth between nature and society made that everything started to be connected and everything interacts with each other. Bastiaan van Aarle wanted to bring this interaction between different elements back into his photographs. The photographs don’t only show the interaction on the landscape that it depicts, but each photograph also interacts with the photograph before and after. Like a light pole becomes in the next image a majestic tree. There is a change between the images, but we see that they are related. We understand their history or their transformation.

This is an ongoing process and it will never stop. The same goes for these pictures. When will the last picture be taken and how long will we sustain this pulling back and forth. Will nature survive wild or will it submit to society?

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To view more of Bastiaan’s work please visit his website.