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‘Inherit the Dust’ by Nick Brandt

Exhibition details

Opening / Event Date:
12 March, 2020
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Closing / End Date:
22 April, 2020
Event Category:
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Inherit the Dust 塵土繼承 | Nick Brandt

Exhibition Dates: 13 March – 22 April 2020

Opening Cocktail: Thursday 12 March, 6-8pm

Opening hours: Wednesday – Sunday 11am to 6pm

Related events:
Presentation & Conversation with Nick Brandt:
Sat. 28 March 11 am at Blue Lotus Gallery
Closing event on Earth Day: 22 April 2020

Venue : Blue Lotus Gallery

28 Pound Lane, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Enquiry : [email protected] | www.bluelotus-gallery.com

We will not cancel this exhibition, no matter what.


 About the exhibition:

In a series of photographic panoramas shot in East Africa, celebrated photographer Nick Brandt records the impact of men in places where animals used to roam, but no longer do. Pollution and urban encroachment is the cause of ever decreasing habitat for the natural world and loss of biodiversity.

But loss of habitat is not the only threat to wildlife.

Consumption of wildlife as deluxe delicacies, grounded into medicines or carved into luxury objects have pushed many species such as rhinos and pangolins to the brink of extinction.  “Very few ecosystems are not affected by wildlife trade,” said Vincent Nijman, an anthropologist at Oxford Brookes University in Britain. “It directly impacts a very large number of species, and has a knock-on effect on many more species still.”

And it’s not just animals that are affected, wildlife trade comes at a huge cost to humanity too. Currently wildlife trade is the cause of a major global health scare. The most novel strain of corona virus seems to have originated from a wildlife market in Wuhan. Over 2000 people died already (as recorded by 20 Feb 2020).  The Chinese government ordered a ban on the trade of wild animals but only temporary until the epidemic is over. Activists, scientists and conservationists are pushing for a permanent ban. 

A scientific report titled ’Wildlife Trade and Global Disease Emergence’ published by by Wildlife Conservation Society in 2005 states: “Since 1980, about 35 new infectious zoonotic diseases have emerged in humans,  about 1 every 8 months. The origin of HIV is likely linked to human consumption of nonhuman primates. Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreaks in humans have been traced to index patient contact with infected great apes that are hunted for food. SARS-associated coronavirus has been associated with the international trade in small.”

The outbreak of SARS should have been a clear warning sign. Unfortunately it wasn’t. 

“Outbreaks resulting from wildlife trade have caused hundreds of billions of dollars of economic damage globally. Rather than attempting to eradicate pathogens or the wild species that may harbor them, a practical approach would include decreasing the contact rate among species, including humans, at the interface created by the wildlife trade. Focusing efforts at markets to regulate, reduce, or in some cases, eliminate the trade in wildlife could provide a cost-effective approach to decrease the risks for disease for humans, domestic animals, wildlife, and ecosystems.”  (Wild life conservation Society, 2005 ’Wildlife Trade and Global Disease Emergence’)

According to the WWF, wildlife crime has become more lucrative and dangerous, involving large-scale, transnational organized criminal networks. It is now the 4th most profitable illicit trade in the world, estimated at up to US$19 billion each year.  Hong Kong until this day remains the biggest hub. The problem persists due to lack of investigation and law enforcement. As per the New York Times (Feb. 2019): ‘While other countries with the political and law-enforcement capacity to fight wildlife trafficking have begun to do so, the territory’s government — which is otherwise relatively aggressive in combating corruption, organized crime and other ills — has appeared reluctant to follow suit, even as an enormous share of the illegal trade passes through the territory’s airport and shipping terminals.’

Humanity can not survive without the rich biodiversity which took the planet millions of years to create; together they prosper and together they will fall. The world can not allow a minority of exotic food lovers to be the cause of extinction of species, the loss of biodiversity and cause major global health emergencies.

Confucius once said: ‘You end up where you are going if you don’t change direction.’

If we don’t change direction, our future generation will be inheriting dust.



“If you take photographs, make the photographs useful.” Ansel Adams once said. Nick Brandt wanted to do exactly that after seeing the ongoing destruction while collaborating on a music video for Michael Jackson, ‘Earth Song’, in Tanzania in 1995.

No effort was spared by Nick Brandt to express the dire state of our environment in relation to its beautiful wildlife. The making of ‘Inherit the dust’ started in 2014 and took over a year to complete. The series consists of unreleased portraits of animals, taken over prior years, printed life-size and glued to large panels. These panels were then placed in within a world of explosive urban development,  locations where animals such as these used to roam but, as a result of human impact, no longer do. In all but a few of the final photographs, the animals within the panels are effectively invisible to the people going about their lives. The animals have been reduced to ghosts in these blasted landscapes.

As per Kathryn Bigelow, Film Director, The Hurt Locker:

‘The wasted lands in Inherit The Dust were once golden savannah, sprinkled with acacia trees, where elephants, big cats and rhinos roamed.  These now dystopian landscapes – as Nick Brandt’s unvarnished, harrowing but stunning work reveals – brings us face to face with a crisis, both social and environmental, demanding the renewal of humanity itself.’

Nick Brandt shot everything on film. Every large scale panorama consists of a series of analog medium format of 6 x 7 cm negatives, scanned and stitched together with editing programs.

The exhibition marks a debut for Nick Brandt in Hong Kong.



As per Nick Brandt for National Geographic: “Africa is one of the few places left in the world where you can see animals en masse stretching across your field of vision,” he says. “That vision [of multiple species] taps into something deep within many of our psyches. There is a sense of extraordinary wonderment going back to a more primeval time, when that was commonplace across the entire world.” Photography, he says, was simply the best way to express his feelings about animals and nature, and he has been using it since as a call to action to preserve what remains.”

In 2010 together with conservationist Richard Bonham, and entrepreneur Tom Hill, Nick Brandt started the non profit conservation organization Big Life Foundation (BLF) with the aim to protect wildlife in the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro Area cross-border Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa through collaboration with partner NGO’s, national parks, government agencies and the local community. BLF currently has 300 rangers equipped with land cruisers, aerial support, night vision and tracker dogs patrolling an area of 1.6 million acres (about 6 times the size of Hong Kong SAR).

At the heart of BLF is the philosophy: “envisioning a world in which conservation supports the people and people support conservation”. One of the key players are the Maasai community who have lived along wildlife for hundreds of years. The Maasai communities were given portion of the Amboseli park to support wildlife on their lands and percentage of income derived by tourism to encourage to set up their own wildlife sanctuaries which supplements their life-stock income and compensates for the occasional loss of life-stock or crops due to wildlife.

Through these combined efforts and holistic approach to conservation, the park currently can boast one of Africa’s largest elephant populations. BLF is also making considerable efforts to protect the last East African black rhinos which are near extinction.

In the last few years, Maasai ranger Daniel Ole Sambu representing Big Life Foundation has made a trip to Hong Kong visiting ivory shops on Hollywood Road in traditional Maasai costume to create awareness for the issues.



Blue Lotus Gallery, established in 2007 is Hong Kong’s leading photography gallery exploring Hong Kong culture and identity through. The gallery is the exclusive representative worldwide of Fan Ho, Wing Shya, Romain Jacquet Lagreze and Tugo Cheng.

This exhibition marks an important and pivotal change in the gallery’s program. Throughout 2020, the gallery moves away from featuring Hong Kong’s urban dimension to examine human impact on the  natural world.

As per gallery director Sarah Greene: “We are very honored to be exhibiting Nick Brandt. Brandt is one of today’s most important critical environment photographers who’s visceral approach of pointing at pressing issues facing humanity can do nothing but urge for action and change.”

The exhibition is critical towards the involvement of Hong Kong’s role in the wildlife trade but on a positive note also points to Hong Kong’s unique power of making important changes. Hong Kong holds the key to positive change and can make a serious dent into this unnecessary and cruel trade, this would not just benefit East Africa but the whole world. Hong Kong being the world class metropolis it is, hopefully one day will be exemplary in terms of environmental improvement and ethical trade.

Limited Edition Fine Art Prints and the book ‘Inherit the dust’, will be available during the exhibition.



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