At first glance, Norbert Schoerner's photographs look like studies of individual pine trees rising against a barren, mountainous landscape of rolling peaks and dark sky formations. Upon closer inspection, however, one notices something unusual. The trunk of the pine tree is not rooted in the earth, but opens into a vessel reminiscent of the typical ceramic bowls in which bonsais are grown.
The bonsais in Norbert Schoerner's photographs are from the breeding of the Abe family, who live in the Azuma mountain region near Fukushima. For three generations, these masters - Kurakichi, his son Kenichi and grandson Daiki - have been raising bonsais from seed. These are exclusively seeds from tree species found in the shadow of the volcanic mountain Azuma-Kofuji. For his photographs, Schoerner climbed the mountain and took a series of landscape pictures. From these, he had prints made so large that when the Abe family bonsais were placed in front of them and photographed in the right light, the miniature pines looked like full-grown trees. The fact that he photographed the bonsais in constructed diorama-like environments suggests that the artist was returning the bonsais to their place of origin, allowing them to reach their full growth potential.