Inherit the dust – Big 5 apocalypse?

30 May 2016

SIG: Contemporary

Last week, idling away an hour in an airport before boarding my flight home I came across an amazing series of images in Fotoforum (a German bi-monthly journal, fotoforum.de); I had to buy a copy so I could enjoy looking some more at the final and “making of” images in the article.  Following up I’m kicking myself that I missed the opportunity to go see the images “in the flesh” presented earlier this month by Atlas Gallery at Photo London… well, it’s not possible to be everywhere.  My consolation prize is that there’s a photobook to put on my Christmas list.

Using medium format cameras and 1000’s of rolls of film Nick Brandt built life-sized panels depicting Africa’s great creatures.  He placed the panels in scenes where the animals used to roam, with the panels lined up to fit in with the developed landscapes.  The resulting images of the animal panels and their surroundings is a great series, illustrating the plight of wild animals being displaced from their natural territories.  One of my favourites is “Road to Factory with Zebra, 2014” which illustrates the detail in the work – lining up the original background of the zebra image with the river and also contrasting the stripes of the animal with those on the front of the train about to thunder past.

The images are all available on Nick Brandt’s website, http://inheritthedust.nickbrandt.com/, and of course in the photobook “Inherit the Dust”.  Honestly I wonder if making a book can change the likely outcome, particularly if most people reading it are outside Africa.  Africa must develop, but if people stop and think about how they can accommodate the animals too surely that’ll be a better outcome for everyone on the planet?