Forest of Eden by SofijaSilvia

Artist transforms the hotel experience. One of Croatia’s most respected contemporary artists has brought the outside inside to enrich the visitor’s experience at a landmark hotel.

SofijaSilvia has produced an extensive body of photography that specifically responds to the unique architectural and landscape heritage of Hotel Eden, which occupies a modernist masterpiece in forest parkland outside the ancient port town of Rovinj, Croatia.

In 2016, hotel-group Maistra d.d. commissioned SofijaSilvia to produce new artworks in response to the site. After seven months of work, the result is an extensive series of tree-themed photographs entitled Forest of Eden. 359 photographs have now been mounted in custom-built, backlit light boxes, and installed in suites and rooms. In addition, framed photographs hung in the corridors contribute to an immersive environment throughout Hotel Eden. By day, the works create parallel views outside; by night, they create a soft and intimate glow. Already guests are responding warmly. “SofijaSilvia’s work has encouraged our guests to really explore our beautiful grounds and their fascinating history,” says hotel assistant manager Radmila Supić. “It shows how art can help to create a unique and memorable hotel experience.”

Taken on 35 mm film using a specially adapted Mamiya 7ii camera, each photograph provides a window onto the historic landscape outside the hotel. In the 19th century, Austrian industrialist Count Johann Georg Hütterott purchased the land and began to transform it to achieve his dream of founding a health resort (ultimately never realised). The 325-room hotel building dates from 1971. Designed by architects Ivo Bartolić and Miroslav Begović, and now sensitively renovated, it is a fine example of late Modernism and an important piece of Croatian architectural history.

SofijaSilvia’s photographs encourage visitors to reflect on this distinctive heritage. Her panoramic forms pay tribute to the hotel’s strong architectural lines. The images focus on the rich variety of trees to be found around the hotel, many of which were introduced by Hütterott: not only pines but also hundred-year-old cypresses and Himalayan cedars, eucalyptus and ginkgo trees, as well as ancient olive trees, all entwined with the native Mediterranean vegetation. The unusual angles of SofijaSilvia’s vistas encourage guests to look more closely at the surrounding environment.

Forest of Eden is the latest example of SofijaSilvia’s interest in the relationship between interior and exterior worlds. She has exhibited her photography and installations in major galleries and museums across Croatia and internationally. Her largest body of work to date, Silent Islands (2009–2014) documents the multilayered history of the Brioni archipelago in the Adriatic Sea, at one time a holiday retreat for Yugoslavian President Josip Tito. Made up of several series that include both deserted hotel interiors and carefully manicured landscapes, the project—like Forest of Eden—takes a poetic approach to nature, history, and human psychology. SofijaSilvia says: “I’m fascinated by the way humans shape our environment, and how our environment then shapes us in return.”

Project title: Forest of Eden

Artist: SofijaSilvia

Printing studio: Studio B-nula

Lightboxes producer: Centar Kovačić d.o.o.

Architecture: Ivo Bartolić, Miroslav Begović

Interior design: AD dizajn i arhitektura d.o.o.

Investor: Maistra d.d.

Location: Hotel Eden, Rovinj, Croatia

Photos. Doc. SofijaSilvia


About the area

Situated on the Adriatic coast of Croatia, Rovinj is a bustling fishing port and popular tourist destination with a population of 15,000

The first archaeological traces of life in Rovinj date back to the Bronze Age, and the old city started developing in the 3rd century.

During its long history, Rovinj has been part of the Roman empire, the Byzantine empire, the Republic of Venice, the Kingdom of Italy, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and now Croatia, following independence in 1991.

Hotel Eden is situated on the edge of Park šuma Zlatni Rt (Golden Cape Park), an important nature park that includes forests and beaches. The park is closed to motor vehicles and provides a home to many unusual species of flora and fauna.

About the hotel

Hotel group Maistra d.d. was founded in 2005 and currently runs hotels in the Mediterranean region. Maistra’s commitment to culture extends to an impressive collection of contemporary art that includes work by Chris Goennawein (Germany), Kristina Lenard (Croatia), Federico Luger (Italy), and Massimo Uberti (Italy), Abdelkader Benchamma (France), Goran Petercol (Croatia), Ivana Franke, SofijaSlvia (Croatia).

About the artist

SofijaSilvia is a contemporary artist from Croatia, currently based in Pula, Croatia and Paris, France. She studied photography at FAMU in Prague, Czech Republic, before obtaining her MA at Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design, London. Her work has been widely exhibited in museums and galleries internationally.


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