Inherit the Dust
Statement: Genesis: we are living through the antithesis of genesis right now. It took billions of years to reach a place of such wondrous diversity, and then in just a few shockingly short years, an infinitesimal pinprick of time, to annihilate that.
However, most of us still think that the destruction in Africa is to do with poaching, feeding the insatiable demand for animal parts from the Far East. Actually, it’s much more complex and monumental than that. Mainly, it’s about the terrifying number of us, and the impact of the very finite amount of space and resources for so many humans.
Unreleased portraits of animals taken over prior years were printed life-size and glued to large panels. The panels were then placed in locations where animals such as these used to roam but, as a result of human development, no longer do.
In all but a few of the final photographs, the animals within the panels are effectively invisible to the people going about their lives. The animals have been reduced to ghosts in these blasted landscapes. The damnation of animal life, the debasement of human life, the destructive conjugality between the two: It is not just the animals who are the victims of environmental devastation, but also the humans now inhabiting these landscapes.
It’s a cliché, but we must act urgently. If we continue to do nothing, future generations will be inheriting the sad remnants of a once-vibrant living planet. They will be inheriting dust.
Born in England, Nick Brandt has devoted his photographic career to showing the disappearing natural world of East Africa, and its rapid destruction at the hands of man.
Starting in 2001, he photographed and published a trilogy of works, charting this progress from paradise to diminished reality. The consecutive titles of the books form one sentence: On This Earth, A Shadow Falls, Across the Ravaged Land.
In 2016, Brandt completed and published Inherit the Dust. In a series of epic panoramas, Brandt records the impact of man, in places where animals used to roam, but no longer do. In each location, Brandt erects a life-size panel of a previously unreleased animal portrait, setting the panels within a world of explosive urban development, factories, wasteland and quarries.
Nick Brandt’s work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world, including in New York, London, Los Angeles, Paris, Stockholm and Berlin.
Now living in California, in 2010, Brandt co-founded Big Life Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to protecting the wildlife and ecosystems of a large area of East Africa.