We’ve never been able to shake the vision of an apocalyptic Dubai – a seemingly inevitable time when the scores of largely unoccupied skyscrapers inching towards the Gulf will be evacuated and swallowed up by the surrounding desert. And now renowned British photographer Richard Allenby Pratt has created a series of images called Abandoned that makes such a nightmare tangible. By inserting images of the odd lion, rhino, or kangaroo in the dry and broken landscape, Richard calls attention to the plight of the world’s creatures that we have so shamelessly plundered in our ceaseless devotion to acquisition.
Richard’s award-winning images are most compelling for their subtlety. It would be tempting to populate the vacant spaces with a throng of animals running wild, grateful to be free of humanity’s cruel dominion, but that wouldn’t be realistic at all.
Nor are zebras on a multi-lane highway in the middle of the desert, but this series is so well composed that we are willing to temporarily suspend our disbelief in order to absorb the take-home message that we have failed to live in harmony with nature.
Although, wealthy Emiratis have amassed an unknown but significant stock of wild animals that are displayed as status symbols, including lions and cheetahs, so perhaps it isn’t so strange to imagine them scouring the ruins of Dubai’s familiar skyline after all!
When viewing these images, it’s often necessary to really hunt down the animal in the picture, which we found lends a certain honesty to the scale of both the physical context and overall, global immensity of our destruction.
A commercial photographer by day and a documentarian at all other times, Richard explains that his personal artwork allows him to create without the shackles of commercial interests. And he has received numerous accolades for his unique and sensitive treatment of socio-environmental issues, including, most recently, 2nd place in the international category for the Al Thani Awards in Qatar.
Abandoned has been displayed at The Empty Quarter Gallery in Dubai and the artist constantly seeks opportunities to do solo exhibits. Other themes addressed in his work include light pollution and local architecture. Visit Richard’s website to see more images from his Abandoned series along with his other work.
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