Atlas Gallery exhibits works photographed by Nick Brandt during the global pandemic in late 2020

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Atlas Gallery exhibits works photographed by Nick Brandt during the global pandemic in late 2020
Nick Brandt, Fatuma, Ali, and Bupa, Kenya, 2020.

LONDON.- Atlas Gallery is presenting the first chance to see The Day May Break by photographer and environmentalist Nick Brandt at the gallery in London (16 Sept–29 Oct).

The Day May Break was photographed by Brandt during the global pandemic in late 2020. It is the first part of a global series portraying people and animals that have been impacted by environmental degradation and destruction.

The people in the photos have been badly affected by climate change – some displaced by cyclones that destroyed their homes, others displaced and impoverished by years-long severe droughts.

Photographed at five sanctuaries/conservancies in Zimbabwe and Kenya, the animals are almost all long-term rescues, victims of everything from the poaching of their parents, to habitat destruction and poisoning. Unable to be released back into the wild, including the last two northern white rhinos in the world, they are habituated. And so it was safe for human strangers to be close to them, photographed in the same frame at the same time.

The people and animals make no physical or eye contact, and yet they are unified within the space by the limbo-like fog that symbolises a once recognisable world now fading from view. The fog is also an echo of the wildfires, driven by climate change, devastating so much of the planet.

A grim and timely reminder of the environmental breakdown that is taking place, everyone in this series has been badly affected by the escalating damage, including by cyclones or long and severe droughts resulting in death, displacement and poverty. “The environmental threat to life on this planet – both human and animal – is realised by Nick Brandt in The Day May Break to devastating effect in these powerful yet tender portraits,” says Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Climate Change.

“Twenty years ago, I started photographing the vanishing natural world of Africa,” says Brandt. “This led to a series of works about habitat loss and biodiversity loss,” In The Day May Break everyone in this series has a story to tell, each recorded in the accompanying book. “However, despite their loss, these people and animals are the survivors. And there – in this survival through such extreme hardships – lies possibility and hope,” says Brandt.

“A landmark body of work by one of photography’s great environmental champions. Showing how deeply our fates are intertwined, Brandt portrays people and animals together, causing us to reflect on the real-life consequences of climate change. Channeling his outrage into quiet determination, the result is a portrait of us all, at a critical moment in the Anthropocene.” – Phillip Prodger, former Head of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery, London

“Nick Brandt is an artist and witness who seizes bleak and desperate fates, and by some mystery and alchemy, transmutes these into a gesture of poignant and painful beauty. It has been an eon, and then some, since I experienced contemporary photographs of people of African roots created by a person of Euro-American origin, that were this tender, human and gorgeous.” – Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Kenyan writer (from her foreword to The Day May Break)

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