Some of Struth’s most affecting and damning images amid so many signs of progress and wealth are his photographs of buildings and churches in Tel Aviv or Ramallah or the Golan Heights, a region marked by conflict and also by a sense of ancient history. Within Struth’s images, two worlds coexist, one where money allows for remarkable strides and another world lost in time, defined by centuries rather than decades. Perhaps it is that contrast that Struth is after when he invokes “politics”: the yawning divide between technology and religion, places of material wealth and domestic peace versus nations where conflict marks the landscape. In that sense, “Nature & Politics” offers much food for thought.
On the other hand, “Nature & Politics” can raise the question of how many abstract visions of inscrutable laboratories and factories and rooms filled with mysterious machinery do we need in order to understand that divide? Struth is an undeniably skilled photographer with much to say about our global consciousness, but I often longed for fewer rooms filled with machines and more images outside of a privileged Western realm where money and access suggest limitless possibility.
Buildings like a Golan Heights mosque destroyed by past conflicts are Struth’s brutal reminder that even as humankind reaches pinnacles of innovation, it slides cruelly back into darkness and destruction at the same time, another world away.
“Thomas Struth: Nature & Politics”
Through Jan. 8. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays and Saturdays; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays; noon-5 p.m. Sundays. The following reflects High's recently changed ticket pricing: $14.50, ages 6 and above; free, children 5 and younger and members. High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 404-733-4444, www.high.org.
Bottom line: Remarkable but often intellectually abstruse images from a world-renowned photographer.
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