In winter and spring of 2018, I traveled solo through the Middle East, over the Caucasian Mountains, and into Central Asia. Through photography, I desired to track the path of civilization from the Levant and onto the Silk Road—to witness landscapes of awe and to catalog ancient and modern sites of power and belief, of which I found many. Yet on the route to these ruins, I also ran smack into contemporary development of communities and of nations in the process of shaping their narratives and visual identities as they transition out of war, old overlords, and corruption, sometimes with questionable returns or comic results. The urban landscape and the details of quotidian life evinced the continued potency of multiple eras—the Biblical, the Socialist, the Industrial, the Mongol—and it became my quest to capture the very size of these countries and their histories, the enormity of these lands and spaces and cultures. I sought out the relationships between the manmade and the natural, using photography to elicit how the structures and the landscapes interact, reinforcing the fact that buildings are built out of their environments, out of these mountains and deserts. The resulting images seek to remind us of the way that civilization is just a transition away from the natural world. Via the ruin that will certainly come, civilization will journey home back to the materiality that spawned it: the rocks and ice and acres of sand.
Out of these experiences come pictures that are part documentary of contemporary life, part lyric meditation on civilization, and part light-paintings of awe.
The Peregrinations will continue. In the summer of 2018, I will return first to the mountains of Georgia with a Georgian political activist to document the shifting border with Russia, then head to the mountain teashops of Azerbaijan that recall my childhood in central Kentucky, initiating a meditation on the meaning of family rituals and retreats in two rural communities halfway around the world from one another. In the opening months of 2019, I will travel solo once more, this time from Israel to Iran.