Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Frans Lanting journeyed to the Australian outback for a cross-cultural artistic collaboration
Together the artists sat in the sand contemplating the themes, patterns and even colors for the painting.
“It was truly collaborative,” Lanting says, “and then he brought in his traditional symbology, telling the story of the giant emus and connecting it with the sense of place as symbolized by the circles and the lines, which show important landmarks on the journey. And then he went to work, and I was able to document the process of him painting it, the very first strokes and how he finished the canvas sitting in the desert.”
The entire painting, the whole of the collaboration in fact, took place fittingly in the outdoors. Lanting and his team camped for several days as Turkey worked, even enlisting the help of his family to fill in details under his direction.
The large painting completed, Lanting then worked to photograph it in the landscape. He struggled to make sense of the visual juxtaposition, and made several attempts before finding his ideal composition. He propped the painting up, angled it for perspective, and turned it sideways. Many combinations came close, but nothing seemed to do the works of the artist, the culture and the landscape the sort of justice Lanting felt they deserved.
Ultimately, the cross-cultural collaboration was as much about the indigenous artist accepting the outsider, taking him in, showing him his home, sharing his stories of place, and working together. The end result, that physical collaboration of painting and photograph, was the icing on the cake.
“In the end, the image was published with a joint credit,” Lanting says, “and we both felt very proud of what we created. Sadly, Turkey passed away a couple of years ago, so this is also a definitive record of him in the latter stage of his artistic life. I look back on it now as a really unique collaborative effort. At the center of this was leaping into an unknown entity, both for him and for me.”
Frans Lanting is a preeminent nature photographer, OP columnist and frequent contributor to National Geographic magazine. You can see more of Lanting’s work at www.franslanting.com.
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