Eden, 2011 – 2014

Mixed Media Photo-montage

“The mind of man is capable of anything, because everything is in it, all the past as well as the future”, Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness and the Congo Diary

“Eden” is paradise, the ultimate natural environment. It is a wild expanse of land in its most pure and untouched state. Eden is isolated, unexposed, an uncorrupted world that has never seen the consequences of civilization and technological development. As a starting point for this series of photomontage works I collect wild life imagery from the period between the 1930’s and 1950’s. I am interested in this imagery because the world it represents is one that is natural and pristine, a world where humans do simply not exist. However, these images are rich in accurate depictions of animal behavior, exotic plants, and breathtaking landscapes. In attempting to find new types of sublime I have been avidly researching the political nature of landscape in relation to sublime as seen in the representation of the African wilderness, the ultimate wild frontier. The novelist Graham Green said: “Africa will always be Africa of the Victorian atlas, the blank unexplored continent the shape of the human heart.”

Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness and the Congo Diary” or Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” helped perpetuate this mythological tradition in contemporary history leading to a western construct of a wild continent. Hollywood on the other hand, played a pivotal role in the creation and perpetuation of the myth. The mystique of Africa has persisted long after other world sublime sites have become over-commodified. Eden is a response to this notion of wilderness with the exclusion of the human element. By manipulation images that are real I create images that touch on the surreal. The aesthetic interest I have in these photographic images comes from my fascination with inaccuracies in early color print technology.At its very early stage full-color printing struggled to replicate the true color gamut of photographic images. Images often appear oversaturated, out of focus, blurred and misprinted. This enhances the surreal aesthetic that I am exploring here and gives me the opportunity to apply my photomontage/collage process.

Simon Schama’s in his book “Landscape and Memory” touched on the philosophical and political aspect that I am attempting to represent. By searching for surreal image constructs in combining landscapes with landscapes, cutting out the animal world, exploring negative and positive space, color and misrepresentation of color I simultaneously make a political and aesthetical statement in search of a contemporary notion of sublime.

“Landscapes are culture before they are nature; constructs of the imagination projected onto wood and water and rock.

Nelson Crespo, London 03/2014