The Fahey/Klein Gallery is pleased to present photographer Nick Brandt’s newly released body of work, Inherit The Dust. The exhibition consists of large scale panoramas and coincides with the release of Brandt’s upcoming publication of the same title. For over ten years, Brandt had been photographing in East Africa, concluding three years ago with the photographic trilogy On The Earth, A Shadow Falls, Across The Ravaged Land. The highly acclaimed series became an elegy of sorts, an embodiment of the photographer’s ongoing efforts to capture the rapidly vanishing natural world and changing landscape of East Africa.
In Inherit The Dust, Brandt has re-envisioned his animal portraits, installing them as life-size panels in the environments that the animals once inhabited. The formerly undisturbed landscapes have now been reduced to industrial and urban wastelands. These panoramas are stunning in size and scope, but also harrowing and incredibly sobering documents of an impending social and environmental crisis.
Brandt explains in his introduction to Inherit the Dust, “I conceived this project…to photograph life-size panels of animals in locations where they used to roam but, as a result of human impact on the environment, no longer do.” He continues, “In many of those places, however, even the recent absence of animals in a landscape can still appear relatively undramatic. Of course, it’s only when you know what was there before that the loss is more keenly felt: the herds of elephants, giraffes and gazelles that not so long ago quietly moved across the plains and amongst the acacia trees, the heart-stopping sound of lions roaring on the still air at dusk and dawn. All deathly silent now.”
The epic panoramas featured in Inherit The Dust dramatically illustrate what once was, and is now in danger of becoming a distant past. The animals have become ghosts in their former landscapes. The scenes expose a monumental and complex problem that not only includes the issue of illegal poaching, but also encompasses human expansion, overpopulation, and the environmental and social stresses of economic development. The series serves as a call to action, a startling realization of the social and environmental price of human expansion.
In 2010, Nick Brandt and conservationist Richard Bonham, co-founded Big Life Foundation. Relying on a grass roots effort and calling on inclusive community collaboration, Big Life Foundation was the first organization in East Africa with a coordinated, cross-border anti-poaching operation covering the Kenya/Tanzania border. Five years after its creation, the Foundation now employs more than 300 rangers, 41 permanent and mobile outposts, 15 patrol vehicles, 2 planes for aerial monitoring, and protects over two-million acres of the land.
The creation of Inherit The Dust:
To create this new series, Nick Brandt searched through ten years’ worth of contact sheets of photographs from East Africa, in order to find portraits that worked well in the context of Inherit the Dust. Brandt and his production crew scouted locations that would closely match those in his original portraits. Brandt spent months on the production of each life-size print, as well as the construction of large panels with elaborate aluminum frames to support the prints, some measuring 30 feet high. Inherit The Dust was shot on black and white medium format film. Each image was constructed of 6x7cm negatives stitched together to create the massive panoramas.