DUBAI: John R. Pepper’s ‘Inhabited Deserts,’ is showcasing at The Empty Quarter in Dubai until January 27.
In his artist’s statement for this exhibition, the Italian photographer explains that merely capturing the beauty of the desert was not enough. “My goal,” he writes, “has been to use the desert as a painter uses a virgin white canvas … I attempt to find the symbiosis between the landscape before me and the imagery buried within me.”
Here, Pepper captures an anthropomorphic figure in the stones of the South Sinai in Egypt. “Suddenly the rocks, these non-living elements, were transformed into the opposite: living, expressive, vibrant figures,” he writes. Pepper’s photographs are taken using a “small Leica, 35mm lens and Ilford film.”
“Dasht –e Lut”
Many of Pepper’s desert landscapes are so seemingly empty that they approach the abstract. But in his essay on the exhibition, Kirill Petrin writes: “Who said that deserts are uninhabited? Pepper’s work populates them with our thoughts, our dreams. It’s up to you, these photos seem to say. It’s entirely up to you to take the voyage out, and linger, and decide.”