Hatje Cantz, Germany, 2021. In English. 168 pp., 80+ illustrations, 12¾x13½".
The Day May Break is a new series of photographs by Nick Brandt, photographed in Zimbabwe and Kenya in late 2020. It is the first part of a global series portraying people and animals that have been impacted by environmental degradation and destruction.
The people in the photos were all affected by climate change - some displaced by cyclones that destroyed their homes, others such as farmers displaced and impoverished by years-long severe droughts.
Photographed at five sanctuaries / conservancies, the animals were rescued after everything from poaching of their parents to habitat destruction to poisoning. They can never be re-wilded. As a result, it was safe for human strangers to be close to them, photographed in the same frame at the same time.
Fog - emanating from fog machines on location - is the unifying visual in the work, as we increasingly find ourselves in a kind of limbo, a once-recognizable natural world fast fading from view.
However, in spite of their loss, these people and animals are the survivors. And therein lies possibility and hope.
"Nick Brandt is an artist and witness who seizes bleak and desperate fates, and by some mystery and alchemy, transmutes these into a gesture of poignant and painful beauty. It has been an eon, and then some, since I experienced contemporary photographs of people of African roots created by a person of Euro-American origin, that were this tender, human and gorgeous."
— Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, from the Foreword to The Day May Break, Author of Dust and The Dragonfly Sea.
"The environmental threat to life on this planet - both human and animal - is realized by Nick Brandt in The Day May Break to devastating effect in these powerful yet tender portraits. Art of this calibre is in a unique position to challenge and engage audiences in environmental conversation.”
— Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Climate Change, Chair of The Elders.
"A landmark body of work by one of photography’s great environmental champions. Showing how deeply our fates are intertwined, Brandt portrays people and animals together, causing us to reflect on the real-life consequences of climate change. Channeling his outrage into quiet determination, the result is a portrait of us all, at a critical moment in the Anthropocene."
— Phillip Prodger, Photography historian, former Head of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery, London.