David Benjamin Sherry returns to Salon 94 with “Climate Vortex Sutra” — a selection of his latest works in the form of mind-blowing visions of surreal desert landscapes. “Yes,” says Sherry, “I am in love with the light in Death Valley.”
It feels stunning and often high-definition to me, the crispness of the shadows and the blueness of the sky. The horizon feels infinite. It feels brand new every time I visit. When I manipulate colors in the darkroom, I do like to think of the personality of the desert and often choose colors based on the given palette in the place I am photographing.” The rising heat has found its prophet.
But this time, the colorful veil Sherry applies in the darkroom has a nostalgic tone. As we know, these landscapes are silently suffering from global warming, and Sherry captures signs of their irreversible evolution. Rather than an authoritarian warning, photographs such as Warming, Iceberg Lake, Waves of Ocean Acidification and The Sixth Extinction (all 2014) are reminders — or proofs — that nature in its most naked form is a substrate of our imagination. If nature’s astonishing beauty drifts away, our mental resources will too. Thus, what Sherry proposes throughout his collection of photographs is a map of romantic geography. Some body studies show flesh painted with mineralized pigments to highlight the fact that the origin of mankind lies in minerals.
Beyond geological changes and their impact on our inner lives, Sherry also addresses the mystery of the West. “Yes, the west is loaded with infinite possibilities and dreams. From Hollywood to the Gold Rush, as a child I imagined coming here with hopes of living like they do in the movies; it felt like a fantasy and an escape. I think the people are very similar to the landscape here. It’s surreal, dramatic, dry, unexpected, shimmering and, most importantly, very strange.” The beauty of the landscape might explain its strong power of attraction on generations from different cultures. But I like to think of a telluric, magnetic, geological force that drags us to places on Earth, like migratory birds in search of greater stories and broader horizons.