John R. Pepper’s photographic exhibition titled “Inhabited Deserts” opened on the 3rd of October 2020 in the beautiful scenery of the historic centre of Todi. The exhibition has been produced by the Comune of Todi with the essential contribution of Fondazione Cultura e Arte, a branch of Fondazione Terzo Pilastro – Internazionale chaired by Professor Emmanuele F. M. Emanuele, in cooperation with the Embassy of the United States of America in Italy and is curated by Gianluca Marziani, co-curator Kirill Petrin.
In 56 analogic images taken with his Leica M6, without tricks, in the black & white of great reporters, John R. Pepper, an all-round photographer and artist, narrates his three-year journey through the most remote deserts in the world.
John R. Pepper stated, “Deserts have always fascinated photographers. Often a photographer enters deserts to capture the beauty of the landscape. As beautiful as that might be, it was not what I was seeking. I wanted to go further. My concept, my goal, has been to use the desert as a painter uses a virgin white canvas. I sought to discover what imagery was revealed to my eye – sometimes it was figurative, sometimes abstract and the symbiosis between the landscape before me and the imagery buried within me. Through this subliminal search, my photograph, my ‘canvas’ becomes an expression of my inner being, of what I feel as an artist.”
Three years, 18.000 kilometres traveling through the deserts of Dubai, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Mauritania, Oman, Russia and the U.S.A. allowed Pepper to discover fascinating places that express emotional and geographical complexity and diversity. This interior journey emerges from the silence of the images and reveals how silence unites humanity in intense and profound encounters.
Professor Emmanuele F. M. Emanuele commented, “My sincere appreciation of John R. Pepper’s talent dates back to 2016 when Fondazione Terzo Pilastro, urged by myself, held his solo exhibition ‘Evaporations’ in the halls of Palazzo Cipolla. With this new ambitious project, which entailed three years of work and crossing most of the globe, Pepper manages to render an image of our planet which evokes the miracle of the Creation, a return to ‘Year Zero’, from which it all began, in which the apparent emptiness that transpires from each image becomes full of tangible contents: one above all, the need to stop to listen to your conscience, in order to finally re-establish harmony between Man and Nature.
The exhibition is accompanied by videos that share the adventurous backstage to capture, freeze that moment in time by the snap of the shutter as well as interviews with the guides and celebrities encountered. On the 2nd of October, the opening ceremony of exhibition was preceded by an International Round Table, titled “Il confine assente. Conflitti e nuove armonie”, moderated by Duilio Gianmaria.