Pablo Lerma is a visual artist and researcher based in New York. His artistic practice involves researching and collecting photographs, maps, drawings, illustrations, and geological material addressing concepts such as time, change, erosion, and extinction. He holds a BFA in Painting and MFA in Studio Art from the University of Barcelona; and a Diploma in General Studies of Photography from the Institut d’Estudis Fotogràfics de Catalunya, Spain. His work has been exhibited at; Flowers Gallery, Konstanet, Centro Huarte, NYU, Fotoweek D.C., SCAN International Festival of Photography, La Fábrica and Fundació Foto Colectania, among others. He is a Faculty member at the International Center of Photography and Kean University.
A Place to Disappear
“A Place to Disappear” is a visual research-based project that combines distinct analog photographs to explore man’s absence from the primitive landscape in the Earth.
Imagining a near future, where the humans will disappear from this planet but come back to Earth centuries later. The artist began this work by shooting images of plants, trees, rocks, deserts, volcanoes, glaciers, seashores, and oceans. He then combined these images with vernacular photographs, from public archives, from expeditions in the 19th century that documented the same locations. The physical, conceptual, and emotional junctions between these two groups of images serve to create a new narrative.
The project focuses on three types of terrain—C (Puerto Rico), desert (Mojave) and glacial (Iceland)— each depicted on film as traces of utopian landscapes in
transformation and extinction. Rather than presenting a linear story, the project is constructed through intuitive connections. Consequently, the sequence collapses space and time in a way that reflects the relationship between the archive and human memory. By capsizing the viewer’s expectations of a continuous story with a clear protagonist, the work’s open visual narrative also reveals the impossibility of a fixed landscape and taps into the viewers’ imaginations.
The unfixed environmental fragments in this project are conspicuously absence of humans, alluding to man’s disappearance from the primate landscape and echoing a longing to return to the physical world akin to that of nineteenth-century Romantics. However, the limitless and expansive quality of the work proposes that the artist and viewer may create a new experiential universe together. Ultimately, “A Place to Disappear” suggests humans may transform their vanishing Earth into an open-ended Utopian macrocosm to which they may return.
To view more of Pablo’s work please visit his website.