In his series “The New Gold,” Andres Millan explores the Amazon and its history of exploitation using the metaphor of gold. In his images, people, plants, animals and even the land and air are gilded, in an ironic take on the myth of El Dorado, the imagined city of wealth sought by Spanish conquistadores in South America. In Millan’s images, which will be on view at Photoville in New York City from September 13 to 24, the treasures of the Amazon are not its material resources, but its native residents. A golden fish swims to the surface of the water; a man with golden skin lays on a raft of logs; a golden animal skull rests on the forest floor; and golden light shimmers on the river. Rather than describing the landscape, Millan’s photographs are dark and close, presenting his subjects as icons set in the jungle.
During the last century, the Amazon has been transformed by agriculture and mining. As Millan writes in a statement about the series, “This work is guided by a term that could describe my concern: “Solstalgia” a neologism that refers to the feeling of restlessness, anguish and impotence that we feel when seeing a natural space of our surroundings destroyed.” With these images, he hopes to translate that feeling into questions about our relationship with nature. He asks, “What is our way of relating to the earth? What do our riches really consist of and are we aware of it?”
Jeff Mikkelson’s “Liquid Dreams”
Going for the Gold
Felipe Jácome’s Portrait of Activist Ecuadorians in the Amazon (for PDN subscribers; login required)