Wednesday 18 September 2013

Carlos Crespo: Badain Jaran

Carlos Crespo, born in 1973, is a freelance art photographer and photographer, I read, and assume that the distinction must have special relevance. I'm not really sure whether this distinction makes sense  generally speaking, that is  but looking at the photographs in this tome I'd say there is definitely something to it for they strike me as thoughfully composed, as interesting creations, in short: artfully done.

The photographs in this work "were created over the past years in the course of research trips to the Badain Jaran Desert southwest of the Gobi Desert. This remote desert in China is also home to the Biluthu. which at 1610 metres is the world's largest sand dune. Crespo set out on a journey through a region of our planet that until now – for political and other reasons  has virtually never been artistically explored", I learn from Cathérine Hug, curator at the Kunsthaus Zürich. 
Carlos Crespo not only took photos of the Inner Monglian desert, "what is now an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China", as Bill Kouwenhoven ("considered an expert in contemporary photography") informs me, but also of the people of the region. Again Kouwenhoven: "The people of the region have been caught in the competing interests of their Mongolian heritage and the drive by the Chinese authorities to bring modernity and progress at all costs." Although I very much liked the pics of the people and their habitat (they seemed taken with a sympathetic eye), the Chinese efforts "to bring modernity and progress at all costs" I was not able to detect.

I guess that the main reason I warmed so much to these photographs is my fascination for the desert. My first desert was the Namibian desert, the so far last one the Mojave desert. The dominant sensation that I recall was caused by the immense space: I felt liberated from civilisation, from the imperative "You Must". And, I felt entranced by how the wind had formed the environment. And this is precisely what Carlos Crespo creatively and convincingly documented.

Carlos Crespo
Badain Jaran
Scheidegger & Spiess, Zurich 2013

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