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'Bruna Stude: Shark Fin Soup' opens third art season at Alfstad& Contemporary
Bruna Stude, Shark Fin Soup, 2015. 365 hand pulled block prints on mulberry paper, 6" x 4" each, 60" x 120" total.

SARASOTA, FLA.- Alfstad& Contemporary presents Bruna Stude: Shark Fin Soup, the inaugural show of its third season. In the work, the internationally recognized ocean photographer Bruna Stude invites viewers on a sublime journey under and through the water, and at the same time challenges them to consider exactly is what is being lost, particularly sharks, which a recent National Geographic article claimed are being killed at the rate of 100 million per year – to make soup in China.

Shark Fin Soup features mesmerizing photographs that capture images of the ocean in a seemingly infinite number of ways in Stude’s signature formats of platinum and palladium prints using a minimal palette of silver, black and white. “When I photograph the ocean, I try to capture the magnificence of what is common and universal about it,” she explains. “By illuminating the extraordinary, I want to create awareness and inspire reverence.”

The title of the show, and accompanying installation, references the Chinese delicacy that has brought an entire species to the brink of extinction, and captures the essence of what is wrong with how homo sapiens relate to the natural environment. Each hand-printed, yellow-and-red block print represents one day of the year, cataloged with the number of sharks killed that day, ending on December 31st with a count of 100,000,000.

"Not only is Bruna’s art beautiful in a uniquely haunting way,” says Sam Alfstad, “it delivers an emotional message about the ocean’s waters and aquatic life that will move anyone who cares about our planet today.”

Stude has spent most of her life working and living at sea. Over two decades searching the oceans for images of marine life, she created intimate portraits of fish, sharks and coral reefs. All that changed in 2008 when she went on a shoot to Honduras to photograph whale sharks. “We went out every day for 10 days,” she says, “and didn’t see one shark.”

When Stude photographs the ocean now, too often she finds void and damage, human footprints where there should be no mark. “That is why I photograph empty oceans,” she states. “Looking up from only a few inches below the surface I see cities, I see only what man has created.”

Stude uses her camera to create light-drawings, location photograms. The water, light and marine inhabitants are her brushes and palette. The contour lines created by these elements subtly shift viewer’s emotions in unexpected, meditative ways.

“You start losing color once you’re deep in the water,” Stude says. “So, basically I’m photographing the texture, the light. I love anything monochromatic, and have always tried to gain inspiration from – and focus on – the beauty of the ocean.”

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