In a society like ours, which places a premium on caring, a perception of indifference in wild nature can be scarier than the idea of being chased through the woods by a hundred screaming demons. The demons may be hostile to one’s existence, but at least they show some interest in it and thereby affirm it. Furthermore, one can run away from them. The grinning mask of the forest demon can be a way of putting a face on nature, a way of reducing a fear that cannot be acted upon to one that can. A hostile forest teeming with weird animals can be conquered or escaped, but what can be done about a forest neither hostile nor friendly, which simply exists? It too significantly suggests that we also simply exist, the the heaven’s look down on our fall with no more concern than they do a redwood’s… By making the forest more fantastic and alien than it actually is, the masks permit us to believe that our lives are altogether different from the apparently isolated, indifferent lives of trees.
David Rains Wallace, The Wilder Shore
Christmas Morning, 2015, acrylic on canvas. 61 x 61cm.