The first photos I saw by Maroesjka Lavigne were those in Animal Cabinet, a series about how only experiencing exotic animals in a zoo can lead us to feel disconnected, like they are only characters made to entertain us. The project depicts places or moments where the artist was reminded of this confusing scenario as an adult, and the images are visually stark and have a bizarre air to them. More recently, I discovered Lavigne’s series Land of Nothingness. These photographs are off-putting in another way. They show exotic animals in a vast landscape, alone and centered in the frame or lined up equidistant from each other, as if perfectly and meaningfully placed. The flat lighting creates an ominous feel. As in Simen Johan pictures, the scenes seem otherworldly.
From the artist’s statement for Land of Nothingness: A country named after a desert. One of the least densely populated places on earth. Defined by its rich variety of colors—yet in a forever changing, yet completely barren landscape. Namibia’s landscape draws you in, through a vast brown plain of scorched earth, and steers you over the white surface of a salt pan to finally arrive in the gold tones of the sand dunes. Patience is required to discover the wide range of Namibia’s subtle scenery.
It literally takes you hours, driving though nothing, to at long last arrive at… more of nothing. The sight of other people is rare and only the strategically located gas stations are a reminder of the world beyond. This country is in another time zone—time seems to move slower but it feels more logical, somehow. Captivated by these washed out yet delicately colored landscapes, you can drive for hours. Chaperoned by herds of giraffes or zebras, shadowed by flocks of flamingos, suddenly stumbling upon a family of elephants. The animals look up curiously, but soon forget about you and slowly continue their journey, unhurried by your presence, at their own pace.
Visit artist's site: maroesjkalavigne.be