“Exit Wonderland is a selection of images I shot during a road trip from New Mexico to California,” says Norwegian photographer Tine Poppe. “The vast desert landscape, with its occasional abandoned house or demolished vehicle, presented me with an ‘end of the world’ feeling.
“This sensation was strengthened by the very unique light in the desert, which almost felt superficial—like a Hollywood movie set. I found the same particular light and feeling in the urban landscapes of downtown Los Angeles. In the context of cinema, a post-Trump science fiction movie came to mind…”
Poppe began shooting the series—originally a hunt for traces of human life in otherwise desolate landscapes—in October 2016. It took her some months after her return to Norway to decide on the final look that it would take. Ultimately, the aesthetic was produced simply enough: Poppe shot the work using her usual camera, but achieved her upsetting apocalyptic effect by darkening each image’s blue tones—incidentally the Democrats’ color—to black in post-processing.
Now, some Americans seem surprised to learn that Europeans followed the US presidential election so closely. But maybe they forget that their choice of president has an impact on the entire world. Poppe personally found the recent election especially important with respect to climate change. Over the months of campaigning, she became extremely worried about the most powerful person in the world denying the man-made effect on the climate.
“The northern part of my own country is situated in the Arctic, and those areas are experiencing temperatures 20 degrees above the average. This clearly indicates that something is seriously wrong. Besides climate change, there is, of course, the fear that a person as temperamentally unfit to be president as Donald Trump might push the nuclear button and end it all.”
With her belief in the power of images, Poppe’s work makes the viewer look at this issue from a fresh perspective. “In ‘Exit Wonderland,’ I wanted the viewer to imagine how the world will look if we make the wrong decisions. I am presenting a post-human world, where only traces of human existence remain.
“Every image title in this series is drawn from a collection of Trump quotes, hinting at how placing this man in the most powerful position in the world is a frightening prospect for our future.”
—Jorrit R. Dijkstra