Culture & Communication
Nadav Kander’s most recent project Dust, will be presented in New York for the first time in April 2016 at the Flowers gallery. Rooted in an interest in the ‘aesthetics of destruction,’ Dust explores the vestiges of the Cold War through the radioactive ruins of secret cities on the border between Kazakhstan and Russia.
Priozersk (formally known as ‘Moscow 10’) and Kurchatov are closed cities, restricted military zones, concealed and not shown on maps until they were ‘discovered’ by Google Earth. Enlisted to the pursuits of science and war, the sites were utilized for the covert testing of atomic and long distance weapons. Falsely claimed as uninhabited, the cities, along with nearby testing site ‘The Polygon’ set the stage for one of the most cynical experiments ever undertaken. Scientists watched and silently documented the horrifying effects of radiation and pollution on the local population and livestock.
Demolished to preserve their military secrets, the areas now consist predominantly of the ruinous architecture and desolate landscapes featured in Kander’s hauntingly beautiful photographs. A result of the Cold War and of the relentless quest for nuclear armaments, the ruins stand as accidental monuments to the melancholic, dark and destructive side of human nature.
Fascinated by the area’s past and driven by discovery, Kander’s photographs portray stark fact and bleak setting with a characteristic poeticism. Secrets seem to seep from the silence of the crumbling monuments, bowing under heavy grey skies. Describing what he saw as ‘empty landscapes of invisible dangers’ Kander’s images evoke his sense of awe and fear as he responded to these places and to the weight of their history.
As Will Self writes in his foreword to Dust: “These images do not make beautiful what is not, they ask of us that we repurpose ourselves to accept a new order of both the beautiful and the real.”
Flowers gallery, New York
529 West 20th Street New York NY 10011
T: + 1 212 439 1700
Nadav Kander (b. 1961, Israel) is best known for Yangtze – The Long River, for which he earned the prestigious Prix Pictet award in 2009. Other series include Obama’s People, an acclaimed 52 portrait series commissioned by The New York Times Magazine, and his recent portraits for the National Portrait Gallery exhibition Road to 2012. Kander’s work is included in several public collections including National Portrait Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum and the Frank Suss Collection, and he has exhibited worldwide at venues such as the Palais de Tokyo, the Herzilya Museum of Contemporary Art, Israel and the Musée De L’Elysee, Lausanne. He was named International Photographer of the Year at the 7th Annual Lucie Awards in 2009 and has received awards from the Art Director’s Club and IPA in the USA, the D&AD and the John Kobal Foundation in the UK and Epica in Europe. Dust was exhibited at Les Rencontres d’Arles 2014 as part of an exhibition of new work by Prix Pictet laureates.
Recent exhibitions and awards: Honorary Fellowship Award from the Royal Photographic Society ; Grace of Intention: Photography, Architecture and the Monument at Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, 2015 ; Constructing Worlds at Barbican, London, 2015 and Museo ICO, Madrid, 2015 ; Yangtze The Long River at Haggerty Museum, Milwaukee, 2014
All pictures credit: © Nadav Kander. Courtesy Flowers Gallery
1. The Aral Sea I (Officers Housing), Kazakhstan 2011
2. (left) Priozersk XIV (I Was Told She Once Held An Oar), Kazakhstan 2011 3. (right) The Polygon Nuclear Test Site I (After The Event), Kazakhstan 2011
Dust, Nadav Kander (Hatje Cantz)
Texts by Ted Hughes, Nadav Kander, Will Self, graphic design by Tappin Gofton
English 128 pp., ca. 50 ills., hardcover – 34 x 27 cm / 13.3×10.6 in.
Lecture at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago
Tuesday April 5, 2016 at 6PM
Stage Two, 618 S Michigan Ave, Chicago IL, 60605