|Temples of Nature
By India Allen
The world, so vast and fantastically intimidating, has been explored extensively. But even after centuries of terrestrial discoveries and conquests, Earth still holds secrets to which only a very few are privy. So, thank god for the mighty camera!
Because of photography, people who, for whatever reason, cannot travel to remote places themselves can leave the more exotic adventures up to movie personalities like Indiana Jones — or to photographers like Macduff Everton. Like the fictional Indy, Everton has made it his business and lifelong joy to reveal secret places — places so rare that most of us would believe they could only exist in fantasy and imagination.
Our self-imposed boundaries are thus stripped bare by Everton’s new photo installation, Below the Equator: Recent Photographs, now showing at S.B.’s Hotel Andalucía. As one proceeds down the spiraling stairway into the carefully tucked-away room that is the Ro Snell Gallery, the contrast between the hotel’s urbane sophistication and nature — the exhibit’s elemental subject matter — is stark.
Hanging on the wall in what appear to be
miniature projection screens, Everton’s images gloriously capture
the tropical, remote, and nearly uninhabited environments of Peru and
Chile. There is no romanticism or exaggeration here. Everton portrays
nature as it is.
An absence of human figures is evident throughout the installation.
However, with one exception, the images portray an abundance of human
remnants such as houses, bridges, sheds, and fences. Somehow the cumulative
effect of so many images of foggy, gray clouds reminds the viewer that
all of the photos were taken below the equator. For a North American,
the exhibit spurs a riot of associations, none of which can quite capture
the specific sense of place evoked all by itself. Combinations work
better. For instance, if you can imagine Little House on the Prairie
meeting Martha’s Vineyard, then perhaps you can place Everton’s “Last
Hope Sound,” which was taken in Patagonia, Chile. Overall this
is an inspiring show, the photographic equivalent of an extreme adventure.