Inspired by a commission received from NASA, Mars: Adrift on the Hourglass Sea
is an unbelievably captivating series by artists Richard Selesnick and Nicholas Kahn that explores what life could be like on the red planet. Shot in three separate locations - Provincetown, Cape Cod in Massachusetts, Pyramid Lake in northern Nevada and Petrified Sand Dunes near Cedar City in Utah, the series shows that the duo clearly went to great lengths to try and simulate the perfect landscape.
I got in touch with Nicholas Kahn, one part of Kahn/Selesnick (the name they go by) to explain, in his words, what this series is all about.
"On an altered yet recognizable version of our neighboring planet, we find a world populated solely with two women. We do not learn their names nor how and when they came to Mars, but we observe their wanderings in a desolate landscape which they attempt make navigable and habitable with an amalgam of high-tech components retrofitted to found artifacts and monuments that appear to be the remnants of a long-gone civilization. The remains of massive stone listening devices are littered about the landscape, leading us to wonder: is this a colony that has collapsed and lost touch with earth? How did its occupants become stranded? Or are these the nocturnal imaginings of two post-apocalyptic survivors?"
Richard Selesnick and Nicholas Kahn have been collaborating as Kahn/Selesnick since 1988 on projects like this. They're known for their complicated landscapes, painstakingly created, with actors playing in their scenes. Their bizarre but highly creative photos are meant to remind us about the art in photography and how we're only limited by our imaginations.
When asked who inspired this particular series, we found out that the list was long. "Influences are many on this project," Kahn told us. "Bruegal, Bosch, Redon on the painting front, Odd Nerdrum, perhaps as well. Matthew Barney and Joseph Beuys for their sense of materials. Louise Bourgeois for the sculpture. Chesley Bonestell, a space artist from the 50's, various English painters of the sublime landscape during the early 19th century. Odd formations from caves and minerals were really big influences, though, and the real Mars, so it's hard to unravel all the layers now."