Nick Brandt

This Empty World

Nick Brandt | Photographed by Knut Koivisto

“On This Earth, A Shadow Falls, Across the Ravaged Land”. A single expression was not enough for Nick Brandt. Combining the titles of his first three books, On This Earth, A Shadow Falls, Across the Ravaged Land, the photographer pronounced a kind of verdict, alerting his readers to the dangers of hunting and poaching African wildlife, a cause that he has also fought for through his advocacy and his NGO, Big Life Foundation. Despite some progress made in the field of conservation – such as the closure of the ivory market in China – the photographer is continuing the fight. And is formulating a new expression. With This Empty World, he decries the rampant urbanisation that results in the loss of natural habitats for animals – the main threat to ecosystems today.

Before committing body and soul to saving African wildlife, Nick Brandt worked as a film director. You’re probably familiar with his work, as he produced music videos such as Porcelain for Moby, or Stranger in Moscow, Childhood and Earth Song for Michael Jackson. It was during a shoot in Kenya for Jackson that Brandt first came into contact with the animals that he has now been photographing for over fifteen years. And his talents as a director have fuelled his success as a photographer. Brandt has combined the two forms of expression to establish himself as one of the greatest authors in his field – and revolutionised the codes of black and white animal photography.

In photographs where dystopia rubs shoulders with surrealism, elephants, rhinos, lionesses and giraffes wander aimlessly amid scenery created from scratch by Nick Brandt and his teams. His pictures are produced by merely superimposing two images. No other trickery is involved. A process that is very much like its creator: ambitious, committed and visionary. This latest monograph, a first in colour for Nick Brandt, is a striking illustration of a world overwhelmed by unbridled human development, in which there is little room left for animals to survive. A body of work that questions us about our world’s future: what kind of place will we live in when we are stripped of all nature’s wonders?

In addition Nick Brandt is showing in Baden his work The Day May Break which he photographed in Zimbabwe and Kenya at the end of 2020 – completely without digital compositing techniques. It is the first part of a global series that portrays both people and animals affected by ecocide – as Brandt calls the worldwide climate collapse: “Ecocide literally translates to murdering our home, planet Earth”.

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