Log in Sign up
Australia Now: Kurt Sorensen - As if the earth opened up and swallowed them

by Claire Monneraye

Hidden behind Kurt Sorensen’s camera are a story-teller, an historian and an anthropologist. Over the past six years, Australian artist Kurt Sorensen has developed a photographic language that links the times through the emotional exploration of un­quiet landscapes.

The eerie landscapes of Sorensen tells the stor­ies of people who mysteriously disappeared in the unfamiliar bush. In articles found in old news­papers, Sorensen locates sites where the tragedy occurred and the unknown remained. With a care­ful framing and a well-considered use of natural light, the artist plunges the viewer into a ghostly atmosphere where the mist and dusk are crucial. The subtle visual translation of those events is en­hanced by a sensible expertise of analog photo­graphic processing.

Beyond the anecdote, each of Sorensen’s images reveals the precarious relationship that prevailed between the early European settlers and the harsh Australian landscapes ; the hazardous nature re­minding the ill-advised explorers about their na­ive feeling of superiority. Swallowed by the earth, those who disappeared in the landscape to never be found again are the protagonists of Sorensen’s cinematic imagery that lies at the edge of history and anthropology. 

Showcasing works made in Sofala, NSW, Australia and in the Yosemite Mountains, CA, United States, the artist divulges the unsolved dramas of nations where the centrality of landscape is constitu­ent to the national consciousness. The strength of Sorensen’s images rests upon their power of evocation, making visible the conflicting human interaction with the grandeur of nature. Beyond the picturesque, Sorensen’s images reveres the sublime.

Title from Los Angeles Herald, Volume 37, Number 284, 12 July 1910.

The exhibition As if the earth opened up and swallowed them was presented from 12 to 24 June 2014 at Gaffa Gallery, Sydney as part of the curatorial program NTRAUE (nature) curated by Claire Monneraye.


Kurt Sorensen graduated with a Bachelor Visual Arts (Honours), Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney. His work has been widely shown in Australia including Bathurst Regional Gallery, Perth Centre for Photography, Queensland Centre for Photography, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, amongst others. He has been the finalist of many prizes, including the 2013 Josephine Ulrick & Win Schubert Photography Prize, and the winner of the 2012 Iris Award Perth Centre for Photography. 


Image 1: The Mercy River, July 1910 #3, 2014 © Kurt Sorensen

Image 2: The Mercy River, July 1910 #1, 2014 © Kurt Sorensen

Image 3: The Mercy River, July 1910 #4, 2014 © Kurt Sorensen

Image 4: The Mercy River, July 1910 #7, 2014 © Kurt Sorensen