Selected as a Photograd runner up in the recent call for entries on the theme of superstition, Robert Darch's series The Moor presents mythology in the landscape.

He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.
Cormac McCarthy, The Road, 2006

The Moor is a series of sixty-one colour and black and white photographs taken between January 2014 and May 2015 on Dartmoor and Bodmin moor. In its physical form the work is resolved as a book.

Untitled, from the series The Moor. © Robert Darch, 2014 – 2015.

The Moor juxtaposes the dystopian bleakness and inherent wildness of its landscape against the fragility of the humans that inhabit the fictional space. The series relies heavily on a visual narrative referencing local historical mythology to give context, but depicting something altogether more ‘unknown’. The sense of narrative is reinforced by the reoccurrence of characters that are choosing to inhabit this unforgiving landscape, often appearing on edge, in peril or distressed. The notion of something ‘unseen’ is readily apparent and a force that isn’t overtly visible to the audience haunts the inhabitants.

Untitled, from the series The Moor. © Robert Darch, 2014 – 2015.

The realisation of this dystopian future is specifically in response to the perceived uncertainty of life in the modern world. Although the cause of the dystopia in The Moor isn’t literally defined, within the images there are semiotic clues that offer suggestions. The fiction is grounded within the ‘real’ landscapes of the Moor. Though instead of overt staging, use of artificial lights and constructed sets, the work relies on using found locations, shifting between pseudo documentary and constructed photographs, constantly blurring that liminal space between fiction and reality.

See here for more of Robert’s work, and here for more on Photograd.

Born in Birmingham, 1979, Robert Darch is photographer, educator & curator based in the South West of England. He holds a MA with distinction in Photography & the Book and an MFA with distinction in Photographic Arts from Plymouth University. His practice is motivated by the experience of place, in which the physical geography and material cultures of places merge with impressions from contemporary culture that equally influence perception. From these varied sources, both real and imagined, he constructs narratives that help contextualise a personal response to place.
Alongside his photographic practice Robert initiated and continues to run Macula, a collective for young photographers. He also curates work in his studio and exhibition space Dodo as well as in various locations with the Unveil’d festival.
His most recent book, Durlescombe, has been nominated for the MACK First Book Prize 2017.

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