Nick Brandt forthcoming series of photos, “Inherit the Dust,” was conceived as his elegy to Africa’s natural world. He came up with the idea of photographing displaced animals in places where just three years earlier they used to roam — but no longer can because of rapid urban sprawl. Factories, garbage dumps and quarries now stand where elephants, lions, rhinos and cheetahs once lived.
Nick Brandt erected a life-size panel of one of his portrait photographs-showing groups of elephants, rhinos, giraffes, lions, cheetahs and zebras-placing the displaced animals on sites of explosive urban development, new factories, wastelands and quarries. The contemporary figures within the photographs seem oblivious to the presence of the panels and the animals represented in them, who are now no more than ghosts in the landscape. Inherit the Dust includes this new body of panoramic photographs along with original portraits of the animals used in the panoramas, the unique emotional animal portraiture for which Brandt is recognized. There are also two essays by the artist: a text about the crisis facing the conservation of the natural world in East Africa, and behind-the-scenes descriptions of Brandt’s elaborate production process, with accompanying documentary photographs.
“The destruction of the natural world was occurring at an alarming rate — faster than my already pessimistic imagination could have anticipated,” Brandt said from his studio in the Santa Monica Mountains.