Possibly one of the most famous magical tricks, are the ones where the magician makes buildings, people, and animals disappear. We are all left wondering how on earth is this done? But, the animal used for the trick, we do know that it will come back. To feel the loss, we first must experience what was there before, and the loss of the wildlife, Nick Brandt knows the best. His black and white, panoramic photography, explores the disappearing natural world and fragile ecosystems of Africa’s national parks and surrounding areas. Addressing the intersection of Africa’s environment with the continent’s increasing development, Nick Brandt comments on the accelerating destruction and overwhelming damage.
Animal Ghosts in Nick Brandt’s Photography
Acknowledging the fact that many different animal species existed before our time, Nick Brand asks us to stop and look at the destruction that is happening right now. If the present path of damage continues to happen at the pace that it is happening, soon the children in rural Africa will be as uncomprehending that elephants and giraffes once existed in the fields in front of their homes, like we are unaware that once in the past roaming our lands were cave lions, brown bears, and woolly mammoths. Brand’s new photography series Inherit the Dust, depicts Africa’s most majestic creatures, as they seem to wonder through a garbage wasteland or huddle beside a commercial factory. Like in his previous works, the panoramic photographs were filmed using a black and white medium format film, paying much attention to the light, important for adding that melancholic, cinematic, and intimate feeling that Brandt is famous for. Using his classical portrait of different animals, enlarging them to life-size, printing them and placing them on the panels within the urban areas throughout Kenya, scenes depicted in Inherit the Dust, to an extent are staged and controlled, but also left to chance and the interaction with the people. Depicted printed life-size animal has a ghost-like quality. The animals already seem to be that dust we will inherit. The image constructed with dots and lines, can’t be touched, is not heard and this silence is evident throughout many different locations that the artist travelled to.
How To Capture Destruction
Experiencing first hand the silence of the lands, big footprints of an elephant leaving the stark lake bed towards distant hills, the artist, touched by experiencing what was there before and what is there now, tries to depict the destruction of the natural world. The juxtaposition of animal image and the wasteland of garbage, crucial for the growth of the new cities, illustrate an emotional view of Africa’s contemporary state and the growth that has affected its human and animal population alike. Brandt wonders if it is possible to capture the real scale and speed of destruction in photography. Unlike most of us, the artist tries to react not just with his art, but has co-founded in 2010, Big Life Foundation, to support anti-poaching initiative across Africa’s borders. Reference and reflection of destruction, the artist achieves through action, and his images also consistently communicate an underlying message of preservation and activism for Africa’s wildlife.
Inherit the Dust at Edwynn Houk Gallery
Nick Brandt’s photography exhibition Inherit the Dust, marks the artist’s first exhibition at Edwynn Houk Gallery. Lasting from March 10 – April 30, 2016, the exhibition is accompanied by a book of the same title published by Edwynn Houk Editions.
With his carefully planned, framed and executed photography, Nick Brandt calls attention to ecological and social dilemmas that ultimately extend beyond the people and wildlife of East Africa and encompass global environmental concerns. The haunting images of his animals, even the title of this exhibition, ring like the alarm, calling for action to bring the animals and life back in.