Human Nature


Esme Swimming from the series Human Nature © Lucas Foglia

Hello photo world: Greetings from NYC. It’s my pleasure to serve as guest blogger this month for Hatje Cantz fotoblog, by invitation from Nadine Barth. Nadine and I know each other via PHotoEspaña, Madrid’s annual photography festival, where we’ve both made a habit of showing up during the regular June press week to imbibe all the great imagery (and food). Alas, summer is still months away, but this month (through 28 February) the PHE host organization La Fábrica is staging the first annual Madrid Design Festival, showcasing everything from graphic design to architecture to industrial design.

Meanwhile, winter notwithstanding (we won’t even mention discontent), things are heating up in the photography world. Across the pond from here is a terrific exhibit at Amsterdam’s Foam Museum titled Lucas Foglia: Human Nature. This American photographer has made an effort to get us all off the couch and out into the natural world, vis-a-vis inspirational naturalists and scientists who measure ways we are affected by nature, and vice versa. Foglia presents views of human-organic coexistence — such as the aerial shot above of a hotel in Singapore, with its symbiosis between plants and urban architecture. The show features imagery from Foglia’s 2017 monograph Human Nature (Nazraeli Press).

Photograph of woman on mountain connected to electronic equipment

Kate in an EEG Study of Cognition in the Wild, Strayer Lab, University of Utah © Lucas Foglia

In the above image Foglia depicts a field experiment on the effects of natural stimuli on the human psyche. The Human Nature series draws on the photographer’s own experiences: Foglia grew up on a farm near New York City, where his family mostly lived off the land, and his first major project and book — A Natural Order — explored the lives of other people existing off the grid. After Hurricane Sandy destroyed the forests of Foglia’s youth, he began focusing on the global effects of manmade climate change and, conversely, the effects of nature on people.

Photograph of man falling in glacier

Kenzie inside a Melting Glacier, Juneau Icefield Research Program, Alaska © Lucas Foglia

The above field photograph by Foglia reveals the outer extremes of human exploration as well as the spectacular beauty of glaciers, even as they melt. Foglia depicts scientists whose work faces its own endangerment, in the form of budget cuts and censorship by the Trump administration. Other portrait subjects, such as the au natural gentleman below, revel in their pristine environs with gleeful abandon. Collectively, Foglia’s pictures spotlight the synergy of humankind’s connection with nature — as well as its increasing tenuousness.

Photograph of man swinging in a tree

Matt Swinging between Trees, Lost Coast, California, © Lucas Foglia, courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery