It started with a camera. By the age of 17, Jimmy Nelson had left his British boarding school and set out on a walking tour of Tibet, capturing shots of the landscape along his way. Eventually, this trek became fuel for his passion for discovery and thoughtful commemoration, specifically for indigenous cultures all over the globe. Today, the world-renowned photographer has a new exhibit highlighting the pinnacles of his decades-long career at Atelier des Lumières in Paris.
“The Last Sentinels” features images of over 70 different indigenous cultures–all captured by Nelson, compiled, and curated in an immersive showcase of the artist’s work. These images speak volumes, tugging at the emotions and global consciousness of our diverse human society. The immersive exhibition has been created by the Specter Lab studio and uses Nelson’s still photography to highlight the diversity of remote peoples living in harmony with nature’s innate beauty. The colors are dazzling and bright; the faces are demonstrative and curious, yet frank and somehow familiar.
The exhibit has been put together by the Jimmy Nelson Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in 2016 that serves as a facilitator for projects that promote the heritage of indigenous cultures around the world. It’s also important to note that the foundation was, in part, created as a way to repay the communities Nelson has visited and profiled since many have outwardly refused money and eschewed the spotlight.
Best of all, every ticket sold for the Paris exhibit supports the foundation and, as a result, encourages the acknowledgment and appreciation of these hidden civilizations. On the surface, the gripping works represent a delicate balance between multiple platforms. But to hear Nelson describe himself, as he did for the New York Post in 2018, there seems to be only one direction from which he approaches his subjects:
“I’m not a journalist. I’m not an ethnologist. I’m not an anthropologist. I’m an artist… I’m provoking a discussion.”
This immersive and expressive exhibit is a continuation of that discussion.
“The Last Sentinels” has a limited run from June 9 – July 10, 2021 at Atelier des Lumières.