Dornith Doherty: Archiving Eden
"Trusted Witness" by Elizabeth Avedon
“When looking at the seeds, I was looking at the beginning of life.”
Beautifully designed by Victor Levie, this book begins with photographer Dornith Doherty documenting the primordial wilderness surrounding the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, leading us on a powerful journey in wonder at the elegant grandeur across a vast inhospitable, desolate landscape. Located on an island that is the northernmost place in the world, she takes us onto the icy surfaces around the glacial bay and airport, right up to the entrance door to the Vault, a frozen, silent space holding back the weight of the world.
Many of Archiving Eden's images radiate a spiritual dimension, emanating wordlessly like hieroglyphs from nature, seeming to reflect life itself from within the seed. Using x-ray technology, Doherty was able to peer into the infinitely delicate structures of seeds and plantlets not visible to the human eye.
– Elizabeth Avedon
Spurred by the impending completion of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, "Archiving Eden" explores the role of seed banks and their preservation efforts in the face of climate change, the extinction of natural species, and decreased agricultural diversity. Serving as a global botanical backup system, these institutions assure the opportunity for the reintroduction of species should a catastrophic event or civil strife affect a key ecosystem somewhere in the world.
Dornith Doherty was born in Houston, Texas and received a B.A. cum laude from Rice University and an MFA in Photography from Yale University. She is Distinguished Research Professor at the University of North Texas, where she has been on the faculty since 1996. In 2012, she was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. Her monograph "Archiving Eden" will be published in late 2017.
Dornith Doherty, “Archiving Eden”
with an essay by Elizabeth Avedon
Schilt Publishing, 2017