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The Emptiness of a Land with no Fences – Text by Sarah Raphael i-D

Fashion, sustainability and plenty of horses. Photographer Kerry Dean’s got it covered.

Kerry’s photographs are the starting point for exploring bigger social issues, intended to make you stop and think. She recently embarked upon a 12-month sustainability project with i-D entitled i-Sustain, a project which explores the relationship between fashion and the environment. In a separate thread, Kerry is currently presenting her first solo exhibition at The Front View, London, entitled ‘The Emptiness of a Land with No Fences’. The works on show are a collection of photographs taken on an extended trip to Mongolia, documenting a unique way of life away from the chaos of the western world (think mountain tops and galloping horses). Kerry uses the beauty of the country and the nomadic existence of its people to put across ideas of freedom and possibility. i-D online spoke to Kerry about the project.

Why did you choose Mongolia as the subject for this project? At the time I was searching for an escape, I wanted to go to a place so far removed from my every day life here in London. My search led me to Mongolia, which seemed to fulfil those needs. It felt like a place of wilderness, undiscovered by the masses; of open landscape, rugged beauty and freedom. So in a way Mongolia chose me, the project was always secondary.

The photographs focus heavily on both the Mongolian people and their horses. Why did you decide to explore this relationship? Mongolia is home to 2.3 million people traditionally nomadic, and vastly out numbered by 5 million horses. Most of the images from this show were taken during the Nadaam festival, which is the biggest festival in Mongolia and has existed for centuries. The exhibition mainly focuses on the interaction between man and horse; for me this was the most compelling relationship to explore. The images are also the result of much coincidence and luck, and the rare opportunity to follow a race.

What would you like people to think about when they look at your work? My reason for this trip was to escape, and to explore a sense of being in a place so far removed from the here and now, of vastness and space, a feeling of freedom, and the rare emptiness of an environment. I wanted to try and capture this feeling in the images.

You’re collaborating with i-D on the i-Sustain project. Why did you decide to get involved with this? I’ve always been interested in the impact that fashion has on the environment, and the long-term effects.. . I guess the project emerged naturally from my interest in both fashion and the environment, and somehow wanting to combine the two. I’ve worked on a few projects to highlight the need for greater environmental awareness, so when this project came about I was absolutely sure I wanted to be involved!