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Matinee: 'Requiem by Roger Bruhn' Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

24 April 2021

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 393rd in our series of Saturday matinees today: Requiem by Roger Bruhn.

In this 5:50 video, Nebraska-based fine art photographer Robert Bruhn walks us through Requiem, his show at the Lux Center for the Arts running through May 28.

After graduating from college, Bruhn bought a Leica to try his hand at street photography. That eventually led to commercial work as he raised two daughters and pursued other projects. In the late 1970s his work with a 4x5 view camera resulted in Dreams in Dry Places, a 146-page book featuring images of the humble farmhouses, barns, grain elevators, courthouses, banks, churches, stores and theaters of Nebraska.

The video of his current show begins with a quote by Carl Sagan that puts the earth itself in perspective as the location for everybody who has ever lived.

A requiem, Bruhn explains, is a mass for the dead. The corpse, in this case, is the earth itself. The one Sagan, you might say, celebrated if not quite eulogized.

Bruhn says he wanted to address global warming as an artist, but he wasn't about to chase thunderstorms or embed with forest fire fighters to show the effects of the problem. He decided on another approach.

He explains:

I felt like I should use my art to say something about this, but instead of making the usual dramatic photographs of the dire results of global warming that we are already experiencing -- more frequent and violent storms, floods, drought, etc. -- I chose instead to focus not on what we have lost, but on what we have to lose.

To show what is at risk, he created a series of "very simple" square, black-and-white landscapes focused on what he knows best: his home state of Nebraska.

There is a narrative to the show. It starts with images of water because without water, there's no life. There are no oceans in Nebraska, he admits, but fortunately it does have rivers (and consequently life).

As you walk through the show, he explains, you are moving from wet landscapes to dry ones as the images move east to west, from the wet east to the dry west.

The shows ends with images of fire, one of the most devastating kinds of weather we get, he notes. He explains a mysterious image at the end of the exhibit (which you see above as the video's poster image) as "a whoosh of dust and ashes" that represents what could eventually happen to our planet.

It's not a pretty picture but it is a dramatic one. On the week we celebrate Earth Day, it's good to remember how much we have to lose if we don't take care of Mother Earth. In a word: everything.

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