THE BEASTS OF THE EARTH AND THE SPIRIT OF MAN
MARCH 7 – APRIL 18, 2015
Since the 17th century, artists and poets have been inspired by the invisible thread that binds all aspects of the world from the natural to the spiritual. Photography has the inherent ability to visualize humanity in all of its forms, as well as the larger natural world and its almost endless landscapes and multitude of unique living creatures. A camera lens records what is placed in front of it – whether it is our own familiar surroundings and selves or an entirely foreign and remote region. The photographers selected for the exhibition “Beasts of the Earth & the Spirit of Man” have engaged in explorations that can be both external and internal. They have captured the awe inspiring grandeur that the natural world presents, as well as more intimate images of humanity – in which symbolic references point to a spirit or invisible and private world. By traveling to discover physically remote locations, the photographers risk their comfort and safety to provide us with a more complete visualization and understanding of the planet we inhabit. Other photographers bring us into their own private, spiritual world. In the end, the cosmos becomes the aggregation of the physical world joined with the energies of an inner world.
David Yarrow’s pursuit of close and active encounters with the natural world has sent him to some of the most remote locations on the planet. By leaving familiar surroundings and traveling to seldom visited and inhabited settings, he ties humanity closer to nature by providing a perspective on the larger world outside of our cities and continents. In particular, his expeditions into southern and eastern Africa have captured animals and sometimes tribes from original and unique angles by employing new techniques resulting in fresh takes on the timeless continent. Thoroughly committed to Africa, Yarrow is an integral contributor to the conservation group Tusk and its efforts to preserve the unique wildlife and environments.
In Sebastião Salgado’s acclaimed and renowned photographic career presenting humanity and the natural world from every conceivable region, three long-term projects stand out: “Workers,” documenting the vanishing way of life of laborers across the world; “Migrations,” a tribute to humanity’s mass journeys; and “Genesis.” His newest project is the result of an ambitious eight-year expedition to rediscover the landscapes, animals, and people that have so far escaped the imprint of modern society. This body of work is conceived as a potential path to humanity’s rediscovery of itself in a pristine nature. The “Genesis” project, along with the Salgados’ charity Instituto Terra and his role as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, are dedicated to showing the beauty of our planet, reversing the damage done to it, and preserving it for the future.
A portrayer of the human character, Joyce Tenneson’s work is characterized by an exploration of human archetypes. In the beginning of her career she focused on the self-portrait, but from the early 1980s she concentrated on photographing others. Tenneson’s human portraits go beyond a surface recording of her subject’s likeness appealing to a more spiritual side inherent in each of us. Her ethereal images attempt to show the inner person who hovers behind the façade. Tenneson tries to open herself to her subject’s universe – to discover some inner essence that helps crystallize their uniqueness while also tying each individual to each other. Beautiful and enigmatic, her work is never ingratiating or banal, probing the inner life of humanity.
Renowned photographer John Dugdale creates poignant and stirringly intimate humanistic imagery using 19th century photographic processes and aesthetics. Having lost most of his vision due to a stroke while in the midst of a successful commercial photography career, this life-altering event forced Dugdale to see in a new way. Refuting the notion that you only need eyes to see, Dugdale began to create intimate portraits of his family, friends, and himself that explored the inner life of his subjects on an allegorical and spiritual level. His images move beyond the purely visual by exploring the inner soul of his subjects while linking them to the past and aesthetics of such photography pioneers as Henry Fox Talbot and Julia Margaret Cameron and their printing techniques.