David Benjamin Sherry Looks West

Ashley W. Simpson

DEEP BLUE SANDSTOM, CALIFORNIA, 2012

"I started in Utah, and my reason for being there was really just chance," says 30-year-old photographer David Benjamin Sherry of the origin of his latest body of work, Astral Desert, a series of trippy, beautifully saturated abstract landscapes, sand prints and photograms taken in and inspired by the National Parks of Utah, Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Nevada.

These images were first developed over a year ago, when Sherry took an impromptu drive through the Moab desert while on vacation in Colorado. "Everything is Aspen was just so crisp and clean and perfect, and I wanted to be in the open space," explains Sherry. "So I ended up in the desert and became enchanted with this experience of traveling alone and re-imagining American terrain."

Sherry's time on the road, defined by countless hours of hiking, shooting, and mingling with locals, forms the basis of Astral Desert, which is currently on view in two parts at both downtown Salon94 locations. Oversized, luminescent photos of sundrenched fossils and darkroom-manipulated rock formations make up the Bowery location, while the aforementioned sand prints—landscape photos which have been dusted with dyed white sand to mimic the grains of analog film—and simple stone-shaped photograms fill the Freemans space.

"I would hike for miles looking for the strangest deserts and most dynamic compositions," reflects the artist, "and the search became addictive." Sherry's re-invention of Western topography is largely inspired by a desire to turn Jean Baudrillard's characterization of the West—as an infinitely repetitive horizon—on its head with unique, and often unrecognizable, images of the land."For many people, the desert is a wasteland to be overlooked, but for me, it just became a playground," says Sherry. "I'm making it new again."

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April 2014

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