Sonja Braas photography is a culmination of a world spanning project which has been in the making for several years. Braas makes photographs in museums of natural history or zoology in which one passes through different environment zones. These are constructed of three-dimensional materials with painted backdrops receding into a mysterious distance. These “sets” can feature stuffed birds with real feathers, plastic or real branches and rocks and artificially simulated daylight, all to instantly convey an atmospheric exotic vision of a far away place. These generalized representations of distant “real” places are in themselves “non” places; though pass on an experience of progressing through rainforest, mountainscape, savannah, desert, wetland etc. Braas frames out the museum surroundings and information plaques of these displays so they appear as nameless natural wilderness. The reputation of photography as truth-teller, “the camera never lies” seals the believability of Braas’ work.
Braas then approaches different environments around the world in the same way. She places her camera in real environments, which the museum displays, represent. When photographing landscapes, she mimics the composition style of the displays, which are constructed by humans to ensure that the given spot where the viewer stands reveals every feature of what is before him/her. The display is made to cater to a human viewpoint, and maybe also to our expectations and anticipation of what nature is like. In turn, when real landscapes when photographed like this they seem held in a suspension of reality where the leaves will never fall and the snow will never melt. When exhibited side by side, one may not know for a while that some are from displays and others not. This is because in interpreting the work, the artist stresses the importance of a lack of clear indicators (as to which is which and where they are located), wishing for them to exist equally and eternally in our imaginations.