Brent Stirton: Capture to Conserve

The Disorder exhibition was a truly emotive experience. The photography on display elicited not only emotion but a sense of urgency. It becomes apparent after viewing each artist’s contribution towards sustainability and environmental awareness the dedication towards their craft and subject matter. Though all had distinct takes on the theme, ranging from the abstract to more of a tangible documentary approach, the works presented offered compelling evidence of the drastic impact humans have on the planet and on each other.

Out of all of the photographers on display throughout the exhibition, Brent Stirton’s work stood out to me the most. He uses his camera to expose the tragedies of animal poaching, the illegal ivory trade as well as the larger social, political and economic implications of these travesties against nature.

His image of Conservation Rangers and locals carrying the body of a massive Mountain Gorilla is a truly saddening experience to behold. At first glance, without any context of the scene, your eyes fall upon this massive creature bound and carried above the heads of these men. The colors and resolution of the scene are so vivid and clear it can appear as if the Gorilla is still alive. These men are not to blame though, they carry the lifeless body in a reverent manner, which resembles a funeral procession.

After some research I discovered that this image was taken in the Eastern Congo. A male Gorilla and three other females were thought to have been killed by people vested in the Charcoal industry who have been clashing with conservationists. According to the photographer’s website it is not only the Gorilla’s of Virunga who are in danger. The Rangers have been threatened, tortured and killed in their efforts to protect these innocent creatures.

This is why Stirton’s work is so captivating, his ability to present such a profound setting captures the viewer to learn more in regards to the context and history. His images leave an emotional resonance that leaves the viewer wanting to learn more.

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