Nothing Left To Us But The Body: Ruben Brulat
One of the things I love about doing On Taking Pictures, and frankly something that has completely surprised me, is the fantastic dialog we have built with our listeners; we regularly receive lengthy emails that may or may not have anything to do with the show. While OTP is ostensibly about photography, we regularly stray from the well-trodden paths of lenses, ISO and the merits of digital into topics that run a little deeper, a little more personal, and I think the show is all the better for it. A week or so ago, a listener named Ryan posted a note in the OTP Google+ Community sharing the work of Ruben Brulat, saying that he was going to get to get the chance to meet him and possibly photograph him. I had never heard of him, which is not surprising since there are probably more great photographers out there that I haven’t heard of than those I have, and based on the description of Brulat’s work, I really had no idea what to expect.
“Ruben Brulat has been walking around parts of the world that have a low, low, low population density, and trying to convince some of the people he happened to meet as he was walking around with a large format camera, to take their clothes off, and pose for him.”
What I found was a series of compelling images that straddle the line between landscapes and fine art nudes; hybrids that force the viewer to reconcile the nude forms against the surrounding terrain. The photographs lack the voyeuristic quality present in so many fine art nudes in favor of almost a “Where’s Waldo?” aesthetic. The viewer has to look into these photographs, not just at them. Both subject and landscape are captured naked and presented without a particular point of view, but rather, as case studies in contrast; forms vs raw materials. The pale pink softness of skin is captured against the dense jungles of the Philippines, the snow-laden slopes of Nepal or the barren sand dunes of the Gobi desert to illustrate the delicate balance we share with the environment.
“I am fascinated by the relationship between the body and the landscape. What is the dialogue between them? What do we do, or how do we feel when there is nothing left to us but the body?” – Ruben Brulat