The Beauty of Everyday India, the Vast Emptiness of Namibia
William Meyers | March 6, 2016
Maroesjka Lavigne has a talent for making do with very little. In “Ísland,” her 2014 exhibition at Mann, Ms. Lavigne (b. Belgium, 1989) showed pictures from Iceland, vast white swaths of snow in the middle of which would be a wee house or a single vehicle. The “Land of Nothingness” is Namibia, in southwest Africa, and the arid deserts are barren, with only an occasional tree and sparse shrubs. The sun is so intense it seems to have bleached the land; the colors are varied, but all are muted. Ms. Lavigne will typically place an animal, or some other object of interest, in the center of her image, the very place artists are taught in Photography 101 to avoid. For her, though, the compositional device seems to signify that the nothingness is not complete; look, a lioness! Or, look, an ostrich!
The ostrich’s black feathers stand out like an inkblot against the whitish plain and pale-blue sky. But the lioness’s tawny fur blends in with the faded colors of the shrubs in which she sits, staring inquisitively at the camera. Four giraffes travel single-file across the desert, their immense height miniaturized by their distance from the photographer. In “Gaze, Namibia” (2015) it is a man with binoculars who is dwarfed by the vastness of his surroundings. For “White Rhino, Namibia” (2015), however, Ms. Lavigne got so close to the beast that its monumental body almost fills the frame, its color mimicking the environment. Click here to view the feature.