Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

The exhibition looks at the Rio Grande through photography and haiku

A photo of the Rio Grande by Clarke Condé. (Courtesy of Clarke Conde)

Clarke Condé’s photography speaks volumes without him saying a word.

Still, there are times when the few words he sums up make an impact.

It’s one of the many reasons the Albuquerque-based photographer wanted to present Thoughts on the Rio Grande in Photographs and Haiku. The exhibition opens on Saturday 22 January from 2pm to 4pm at the Open Space Visitor Center Gallery, 6500 Coors NW. The exhibition runs until April 19.

Condé has been working on the project since 2015.

Often inspired by the beauty of the Rio Grande, he has reduced the work to 15 prints.

Albuquerque-based photographer Clarke Condé. (Courtesy of Clarke Conde)

“It’s always difficult to make decisions like that,” he says. “There was a lot of choice. The selection process was time-sensitive. If I were to present that in three months, I might pick another 15 pieces.”

Condé says the photos are of the Rio Grande, mostly through Albuquerque.

“This series explores the great river and its surroundings as it flows through the ever-expanding city of Albuquerque,” he says. “This is a place where the needs of its people compete with the needs of the plants and animals that depend on its waters for their survival.”

With his haiku, Condé simplifies the complex interplay between city and river.

“The Rio Grande

Developed beyond the original

unused immaculate”

Condé believes that the thought process in haiku guides his lens to a vision of nature that is more ordered and reflective than would be possible with a camera alone.

He says the exhibition isn’t a critical look at the Rio Grande.

“We’re just taking a moment to reflect on where we are in this place,” he says. “Through photographs tied to haiku, we immerse ourselves in the river as it flows through, leaving us with its past while we give it our future. All that only in photographs and haiku.”

Condé is also publishing a book to accompany the exhibition on Saturday 22 January.

He wanted to bring a different perspective to the Rio Grande through both projects.

“Albuquerque is unique in that it has a river running through it,” he says. “We didn’t let it wild, but we didn’t develop it into something else. We have a river that runs through our city and occupies a unique place. It’s pretty incredible. It’s such a peaceful respite that’s constantly evolving. I hope visitors will take a moment to reflect on where we are in this place.”

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