This photobook is a sublime compilation of Nick Brandt’s two earlier published photobooks, On This Earth and A Shadow Falls. This book containing 90 photographs selected from the first two books. What seems to be missing in this new book are photographs of the animals in the context of man-made structures and most of the bluish toned photograph plates that are in the On This Earth.
There is a dichotomy between the underlying sadness regarding the state of the environment and future for these animals in Africa found in the essays and the lyrical portraits of these animals. As a result, this dichotomy reminds me of Mitch Epstein’s American Power, non-confrontational environmental portraits that hint at the dark undercurrent of the economics and consumption of energy, while Brandt is very concerned with the ecological changes occurring in Africa. In turn, the situation in Africa is also symbolic of a myriad of other global situations in which local economics (survival/profiteering) is running counter to ecological and environmental survival.
Brandt states in his 2004 introduction “Ultimately, I’m not interested in creating work that is simply documentary or filled with action and drama, which has been the norm in the field of photographing animals in the wild. What I am interested in is showing the animals simply in the state of Being. In the state of Being before they no longer are. Before, in the wild at least, they cease to exist.”
Thus the photographs draw the reader deep into the book, only then to confront the difficult text of the accompanying essays. Indirectly the photographs are a call to action. Perhaps the last photograph in the book, the abandoned egg sitting on the dry, parched earth is a final symbolic reminder of the dismal possibilities.
The texts by Jane Goodall, Alice Sebold, Vicki Goldberg, Peter Singer & Nick Brandt
My earlier commentary about Nick Brandt’s photobook: On This Earth