Alexandra Uhart is an artist photographer born in Chile who is based in London. Before turning her focus to the photographic pursuit she studied Aesthetics, which helped shape the philosophical enquiries that she would later express visually in her work.
It was during these studies that her interest in photography started to grow from a fun hobby into a great passion. So in 2009 after graduating from her BA, she moved to Paris to study photography at Speos Photography School and started to develop her practice. Only a couple of years later, in 2012, she established herself in London to become Rooms Magazine Photography Director and study a Fine Art Photography MA degree at the London College of Communication for which she was awarded a Photoworks Prize for her series Someone Here. There, she talks about the permanent damage caused by human engagement with the Atacama Desert’s environment and portrays human’s increasingly careless appropriation of the land.
Being of Chilean origin, she is aware of the constant and growing conflict between an economic thirst for mining in the area and the necessity to preserve the sublime and unique natural assets of the region; a battle that sadly the ecosystem is losing.
In Someone Here, Uhart ventured into the complexity of the landscape and its social, political and economic context. The project was shot over a span of four years, between 2011 and 2015. She traveled many times to the desert, and little by little started building the story, taking on an approach that is reminiscent of a travelogue from mid-century scientific expeditions to foreign lands. The collection of images creates a detailed narrative of the land, and viewers are invited to join her on a journey of exploration to the desolated spaces of the desert that starts in the city of Santiago and goes all the way North to the dried- out oasis of San Pedro de Atacama.
Uhart’s approach to the medium is the one of an explorer. In her practice she uses the camera to record her findings and share her concerns and interests. Inspired by surrealist and literary influences, she photographs her subjects in a certain light and a carefully selected colour palette that gives them an eerie quality; a style where documentary meets fiction and the images take the viewer into an otherworldly space. Her photographs intend to challenge the viewer’s preconceptions of reality by confronting them with real yet remote and unreal- looking places in the world. Directing her lens to glimmers in the sand and alien- like dead creatures, she plays with ambiguity and mystery that give the story more layers. It is work that resists being labeled within the traditional genres of photography, and instead positions itself on a fine line that divides reality and fantasy.
Close-up photographs of multi-colored stones, wide views on a cemetery of plastic bottles, a pile of old tires, majestic cactus plants standing in the desert and isolated constructions in barren landscapes are mere examples of human’s imprint on the environment. Uhart highlights the psychological and physical issues that arise from a life in the driest place on earth through the absence of humans; there are almost no people in the images. An overwhelming sense of desolation is evident and strong all throughout the series. However, their presence can be hinted by the traces and constructions they have left behind. Almost like scars on the earth’s skin.
Someone Here has been featured on international photography magazines and newspapers, and will be exhibited in October 2016 in a solo show at Ekho Gallery in Chile, where she will launch the series photobook.Uhart continues to work on commissions as a freelance photographer, while creating new personal photography projects and phonebooks. [Official Website]