More and more animal species are in danger worldwide. According to the IUCN Red List, more than 19,000 species are at risk of dying out in the near future. The ice plains, savannas and rain forests that have traditionally been their habitat, are increasingly being affected by humans. On Borneo, photographer and artist Erik Hijweege witnessed the illegal destruction of the rainforest for palm oil plantations. This dramatic sight inspired him to bring the destruction of natural biotopes to the attention in a creative way with his photo series New Habitat that the Natural History Museum Rotterdam exhibits from January 19 to March 22, 2020.
To guarantee their survival, Erik relocates endangered animals to a new, safe environment. The photos show this new reality, in which animals have adapted quickly. The African elephant feels at home in the Italian Dolomites and the Rothschild giraffe has settled in Iceland. The emperor penguins that were photographed on the spilling ice at Hindeloopen seem to have never left Antarctica, and a leopard is sneaking along a Rotterdam harbor quay.
New Habitat wants to contribute to the awareness of the current wave of extinction and thus encourage the protection of the original environment of endangered animals.
For New Habitat, Erik Hijweege used a nineteenth-century photo technique: the wet collodium process. Black aluminum is made light-sensitive with silver nitrate. The resulting Tin type provides an image of special aesthetics and strength.