Shadow Within
Project info

`Shadow Within`- 2010-2013
by Photographer Christian Houge

`Shadow Within`explores Man`s relation to the WOLF and ultimately, to
Himself. In this photo project, i wish to invite the viewer to look at the raw nature and purity in which the wolf represents and how this reflects the condition of Man and his shadows. These shadows often materialize as taboos in our society. This being fear, social hierarchy, aggression, sexuality and loneliness to name a few.
My first goal with `Shadow Within` was to explore the shadow sides of this raw and untamed animal. Instead, I automatically searched within my own being and my own shadow sides of fear, loneliness, hierarchy, instinct and aggression. These shadowsides even materialize as taboos in society.
As the concept grew and I was spending time with different wolfpacks around the world, I needed to let go of all preconceptions and control of how I wanted to work. I had to find my own intuition and let the wolves present what they wanted to show me. This has changed my whole attitude towards how to make images. How to let go.

I have also concentrated many of the images unassailable. The instinct of the viewer will automatically and naturally interpret which situation she or he is in when looking at the bodylanguage and eyes of the wolf. Viewers may interpret these situations differently according to their own personal associations. These can be aggression, sceptisism, fear, resignation, vulnerability or curiosity.
They say 75 % of all human communication is non verbal. Human language can often get in the way for our communication.
I wish to invite the viewer to feel his own instinct and nature in Himself.

In the series I have also wanted to show the metaphore of the within and without through the mysterious cracks in mountains and different types of holes which the wolves have in their natural habitat. Water is also another dimension and element I find fascinating in meeting the wolves. They are curious like children when in contact with water, but since they cannot see what is underneath they become cautious. The wolfs reflection in the water is another metaphore of this animals hugely misinterpreted character and destiny.

This series of photographs explores the boundaries between myth and the `Id`in Man. The `Id` precedes the ego. It is the purest part of humans that revolves around being and basic instincts/drives from birth before identity and culture gets in the way.
Man has gradually drifted further away from his true nature connecting with the `Id´ in Himself. The raw nature within us is subdued,but still very much present.
The wonderment in the hidden and unfamiliar in the age we live in, in contrast to the constant stream of information and social media fascinates me. The wolf been mystified by Man in all ages throughout the arts,fairy tales/folklore,language/sayings and the socialpolitical.
All the misperceptions and contradictions of the wolf from our early childhood through folklore and fairytales has made this animal into a ruthless monster in our minds. A human has not been reported killed in the wild by a wolf since 1843, yet we are terrified the gaze,the howl,the flock and the jaws of this revered creature.

When wolf and Man shared the same forest, this animal was well respected as both a cunning hunter and wise creature.
Since Man acquired livestock and fences, the wolf not only became a threat in many cultures, but the incarnation of the evil. Ever since, we have created myths and horror stories of this allure creature through folklore, fairy tales, movies and theatre.
I think the idea of Man trying to control nature as opposed to utilizing and respecting it, brings up a strong metaphor of how we humans deal with the environment we are a part of and dependant upon.

Most people have their own reference to what the wolf represents, starting from their early childhood. This fascinates me and I wish to explore deeper into Mans psyche and what we all can learn of our own shadow sides through this creature.
This being fear,aggression, hierarchy and loneliness to name a few.
The wolf represents the raw,untamed power of nature in its purest form in which we ourselves are made of. When Man is completely present within Himself, true nature comes forth. These shadows in Man often materialize as taboos in our complex verbal society.
The juxtaposition between culture and daily function with folklore, identity and instinct invites the viewer to somehow feel what could be a larger part of Himself than first imagined.

The relation between nature and culture has played an important role in art throughout the centuries. In `Shadow Within`i wish to explore the idea that both nature, which we are born as, and culture are juxtaposed within us, not seperate from us.
This relation is a theme which i have explored from different angles in many of my series throughout the last fifteen years and will continue to explore this.

The images are made as Giclee prints on 100 % cotton from Canson.
80cm.x120cm. edition 6 +2
120cm.x160cm. edition 3+1