"Nick Brandt is an artist and witness who seizes bleak and desperate fates, and by some mystery and alchemy, transmutes these into a gesture of poignant and painful beauty.
It has been an eon, and then some, since I experienced contemporary photographs of people of African roots created by a person of Euro-American origin, that were this tender, human and gorgeous."
— Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, from the Foreword to The Day May Break, Author of Dust and The Dragonfly Sea.
"The environmental threat to life on this planet - both human and animal - is realized by Nick Brandt in The Day May Break to devastating effect in these powerful yet tender portraits. Art of this calibre is in a unique position to challenge and engage audiences in environmental conversation.”
- Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Climate Change, Chair of The Elders.
"A landmark body of work by one of photography’s great environmental champions. Showing how deeply our fates are intertwined, Brandt portrays people and animals together, causing us to reflect on the real-life consequences of climate change. Channeling his outrage into quiet determination, the result is a portrait of us all, at a critical moment in the Anthropocene."
— Phillip Prodger, Curator, Author, Photo historian, former Head of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery, London.
This Empty World addresses the escalating destruction of the African natural world at the hands of humans, showing a world where, overwhelmed by runaway development, there is no longer space for the animals to survive. The people in the photos are also often helplessly swept along by the relenetless tide of 'progress'.
Each image is a combination of two moments in time, captured weeks apart, almost all from the exact same locked-off camera position.
Initially, a partial set is built and lit. Weeks, even months, follow, while the animals that inhabit the region become comfortable enough to enter the frame.
Once the animals are captured on camera, the full sets - bridge and highway construction sites, a petrol station, a bus station and more - are built by the art department team. In all but a few of the photos, the camera remains fixed in place throughout.
A second sequence is then photographed with full set, and a large cast of people drawn from the local communities and beyond. The final large scale prints are a composite of the two elements.
The book reproduces the panoramic tableaux at maximum size (30"/ 70cm) on the double page spreads.
Brandt contributes two essays: The first deals with the concept of the series, the second a behind-the-scenes description of the elaborate production, with multiple accompanying making-of photos.
(Note: the images were all photographed on local Maasai community land in Kenya. After the sets were removed and all their elements recycled with almost zero waste, no evidence of the shoot now remains in the landscape).
124 pages, 68 tritone photos, 15" x 13"
Edwynn Houk Editions, March 1, 2016
Printed in the U.S. at Meridian, R.I.
Distributed by D.A.P in North America and by Thames & Hudson worldwide.
$65 / £45
Three years after the conclusion of his trilogy, On This Earth, A Shadow Falls Across the Ravaged Land, Nick Brandt returns to East Africa to photograph the escalating changes to the continent’s natural world.
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 one of his animal portrait photographs, setting the panels within a world of explosive urban development, factories, wasteland and quarries.
The people within the photographs are oblivious to the presence of the panels and the animals featured in them, who are now no more than ghosts in the landscape. Some of the animals in the panels appear to be looking out at these destroyed landscapes with sadness, as if lamenting the loss of the world they once inhabited. By the end, we see that it is not just the animals who are the victims in this out of control world, but also the humans.
The panoramas constitute 2/3 of the book. The final third features portraits of the animals that were featured in the life-size panels, the kind of unique emotional animal portraiture for which Brandt is recognized.
Brandt contributes two essays: The first deals with the crisis facing the conservation of the natural world in East Africa, and the work of Big Life Foundation, the non-profit he cofounded in 2010, is doing to protect a critical part of it.
The second essay is a behind-the-scenes description of the elaborate production, with accompanying making-of photos.
(Also published in French, German & Italian under different titles)
120 pages, 52 quadtone plates, 15" x 13"
Abrams Books, September 2013
Printed in the U.S. at Meridian, R.I.
Across The Ravaged Land features 300-line quadtone reproductions by Meridian Printing in Rhode Island, the same printers that printed On This Earth, A Shadow Falls.
From the Book Flap:
Across the Ravaged Land is the third and final volume in Nick Brandt's trilogy of books documenting the disappearing natural world and animals of East Africa.
The book’s title completes the sentence begun by the titles of his first two books: On This Earth, A Shadow Falls, Across The Ravaged Land.
The new work offers a darker vision of a world still filled with a stunning beauty, but now tragically tainted and fast disappearing at the hands of man.
The book is the culmination of more than a decade of work, during which time populations of elephants, lions, and other large mammals have fallen precipitously. Over those years, the acuity of Brandt’s vision and his attachment to his subjects have intensified. His images of animals resonate with a simple idea: That the sentient creatures in his portraits are not so different from us and have an equal right to live.
In addition to his starkly powerful animal portraits, Brandt explores new themes, as humans make an appearance in his work for the first time in the form of the rangers, whose work it is to protect the animals. He also “repopulates” the epic landscape with remains of animals that he finds or introduces, including hunters’ trophy heads looking out over the lands where they once roamed, and preserved birds and bats calcified in soda lakes, appearing to pose for their portraits, alive again in death.
192 pages, 90 plates
(54 photos from A Shadow Falls, 36 Photos from On This Earth)
D.A.P. / Big Life Editions, July 2014
Linen cover with tipped-on image, 13.5" x 15.3" (34.3 x 39cm)
Introductions by Jane Goodall, Alice Sebold, Vicki Goldberg, Peter Singer & Nick Brandt.
Containing the 90 best photos selected from the first two books, available for the first time in one book. Featuring 300-line quadtone reproductions by Meridian Printing in Rhode Island, and printed under the photographer's supervision, the high-quality technique and attention to detail has allowed the book to succeed where the previous volumes have not.
For the first time in book form, the reproductions closely match the rich, velvety tonality and detail of the original prints, and, especially in the case of On This Earth, in a larger size than seen before.
UNSIGNED 5th PRINTING AVAILABLE IN U.S / EUROPE
A SHADOW FALLS
132 pages, 58 tritone plates, 12.3" x 15.3"
Abrams Books, September 2009
PERMANENTLY OUT OF PRINT
ON THIS EARTH
132 pages, 65 duotone plates, 10.25" x 12.25"
Chronicle Books, October 2005
PERMANENTLY OUT OF PRINT