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JACQUES BERTHET: OLIVE TREES

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The Swiss photographer discovers a sculptural side to the olive trees that grow throughout the Mediterranean

Swiss photographer Jacques Berthet (born 1949) has long been interested in the olive tree for its botanical beauty and symbolic significance in a variety of cultures both ancient and modern. However, Berthet has remarked that he did not truly discover the real aesthetic possibilities of the olive tree until he visited Spain and decided to embark on a photography project documenting olive groves across the Mediterranean: from the Alentejo region in Portugal to the Pleistos Valley at Delphi, passing through Kabylia, Tunisia, to the Middle East, in Israel and the West Bank.

The olive plants in Berthet's series appear not as horticultural specimens but as sculptures crafted by farmers in collaboration with nature. In each photograph, Berthet frames a single tree against the backdrop of the greater grove in which it is situated, creating an illustrative effect through the backlighting and black-and-white treatment.