The Project

Photo Agustín Ibarrola Realized by Ricardo Murad in 1986

In the early spring of 1986, I was asked to make a report in Ipar / Euskal Herria. The proposed format was what is known as "great reports" having to cover different aspects including gastronomy, sports and culture. I arrived to the Kursiñe hamlet where I was received by Agustin Ibarrola and his wife Mari Luz. The close and friendly treatment was a constant throughout the report, even so I got surprised by the kindness and closeness of my interviewees. I was very impressed by his work and the studio where he worked. Exited, he showed me the project of a book of photographs que by Heinz Hebeisen, a very creative Swiss photographer, same as I was, a collaborator of the magazine GEO, as I knew later…. 24 years later, I returned to the village with my little daughter.

As if time had been frozen, the same personal closeness again, we shared a soft drink and I told him about my project to use technology features I had employed in 1994 being a beta tester for Apple for an immersive visit of the forest. I made a prototype.

Yet it took me 6 years more to return to the project, but with a changed focus.

When I met Gabi, I was impressed by her ability to relate the vast knowledge she possesses and applies to our conversations. My experience in interactive developments made me doubt about how a “Digital Forest of Oma" would be perceived. As the contents are getting lost in the binary welter, there arose the idea of ​​making a book of paper with digital content.

From the photographic point of view, one could work with new equipment inexistent only a year before and get an unusual quality, but from the literary point of view we did not want to repeat what already had been done, so I proposed to use Gabi’s talent to relate contents in order to bring in her vision of the work and the creative impulse of Agustín Ibarrola. Thus, the traditional index became a conceptual one that would regroup the work, and it was my job to illustrate these concepts and make a set of still photographs of the official views putting them into context.

I would also like to emphasize that we searched a minimalist approach, photos, layout, fonts and so I came to the conclusion to use the forest as a canvas. As a matter of fact, the only colour that appears throughout the book is the painted work and the portrait of the artist. As ‘old school’ photographer, I prefer to achieve the "definitive" photos without any postproduction or subsequent frames, insofar the decision to eliminate the colour from the forest required a very serious reflection.

The virtual tour allows to explore the forest as it is and to obtain an overview to complement the printed book.


When I met Ricardo Murad, I first heard about the forest and Agustín Ibarrola. At that time, there was a prototype of 360 panoramic views, I loved very much. And as a result of our friendship, the idea of a photobook began to take form.

In the spring of 2016, we travelled together to Euskadi, Ricardo to make new photographs, and I still undecided and unsure how to tackle my part Only one thing was clear, my texts should represent something different from the existing documentation material. The climb up to the forest was quite a challenge. Starting from Kortezubi you have to take a few kilometres steep rise before you reach the entrance of the trail. Actually no big deal, one might think, but with a few kilos of photographic equipment on your shoulders things look different. Never before it had cost me so much energy to hug a tree and to be kissed by him.

The first stops and figures left me fairly undazzled. The magic of the place had not captured me yet. It was cold and the sky cloudy, a good day for photographers. My inspiration still remained elusive after a couple of hours. Between his recordings at each stop and jotting a few notes down, I finally began to perceive the forest in other different contexts and concepts. The genius loci had reached me. Even though, it took me some more “chronological” mistakes until I realized that instead of following any chronology whatsoever, I was asked to see and to feel the messages. And that's what I did, with growing enthusiasm.

As a result, here you are some of the conceptual inputs that have guided me from Jungian depth psychology on to Mircea Eliade’s magical flight. To put them down later was relatively easy, being guided, as I was, by Agustín Ibarrola’s love of art and his aim to share it with the greatest audience possible.

Late at night, in complete darkness, we returned to Kortezubi, where we arrived exhausted but enriched.

Gabriela Dörflinger, SPRING 2017