Interview with the Artist R.L. Marlett

May 1, 2019 | Author: webSman


Q: Tell us about your art and what inspired you to photograph a dystopian future?

A: I am a fan of the Mad Max / Post Apocalyptic / Dystopian genre. The series of images displayed here were taken at the Wasteland Weekend 2018 event in the Mojave Desert. What inspired me to shoot this event is the resourcefulness, creativity, and originality on display. What I found, that I was not looking for, was some hidden humanity in the candids I shot.

Q: Tell us about Wasteland Weekend, is this an annual event?

A: Wasteland Weekend started as an informal gathering of fans, in the desert, of the Mad Max series of films.

In its current form, it is an annual five day festival in the Mojave Desert that encompasses the Post Apocalyptic genre. The Mad Max series of films is a very dominant theme there, but not the only theme there There are facets of the Fallout game series and representation from a multitude of P.A. themed movies. There are also themes, tribes, and character dress that are solely the creation of their owners. There are excellent guidelines set forth by event as to what is and is not in theme. The majority of the event geography must be in theme. There are no t-shirt and jeans spectators here, though I see this immersion as an enhancement for some that would not have otherwise participated in dress. There are camping areas that are unthemed, not everyone wants to or has the ability to “P.A.” their camping gear or R.V.. The festival has live entertainment from numerous acts, a full contact sports league, a Thunderdome (reference Mad Max – Beyond Thunderdome), and other attractions put on by participants. Event, with an all volunteer staff, provide on duty medical, security, admissions, and event support. One ticket gets access for all five days with inclusive dry/primitive camping.

Q: Tell us a little about this culture, the ideas and philosophy behind it?

A: The basic story behind the festival is a “yearly festive meeting of the tribes from across the wastes”. In reality, there are no facilities or concessions here. You must bring everything in order to survive in the desert for five days… and pack it back out, trash and all. Therefore, you see some great resourcefulness and originality. At a very basic level, people get along, survive, and experience life with what’s at hand or what they could pack for five days. Making the round trip run into the nearest town is not an option for some attendees. Equipment failure or that forgotten item is all accommodated through real charity or barter. Temperatures range from the forties to triple digits. It’s very dry. It gets very windy, and some people have tent races, involuntarily. We have had sandstorms. If you are looking for a good dose of the wastes, you can get it here.

Q: In a few words, what would be the perfect future, if you could imagine it into reality what are your hopes, dreams, or expectations for the world?

A: The perfect future would be peaceful without the detriment of disease and hunger.

Q: In practical terms, as things are going, do you see the future of humankind as a Utopia or Dystopia? Do you have hope for the survival of the planet? Please give us a brief explanation.

A: Dystopia. With the current trend of society and population growth, I do not see a positive outcome.

Q: Do you see yourself as a forward thinker, and if so what solutions would you propose for saving the world? Or do you feel it needs saving?

A: Overpopulation needs addressing. We need true, realistic, environmental repair and preservation. Just preservation is not enough at this point. The fact that we have to pass laws for people to have clean drinking water is unsatisfactory. I think the world is worth saving.

Q: If you could change any trend that has had an impact on our planet, what would it be and why would you change it, what do you feel it would change and how would it help?

Overpopulation. Lower demand for resources. Less conflict for resources.

Q: As a photographer do you feel you have a voice which could influence or change your audience’s view of world events? Do you feel it is a responsibility of an artist to bring awareness to certain issues?

A: Any inhabitant of this planet has a voice on world events. I could see how a photographer could use the camera to document problems in order to bring them to light. I don’t feel responsible for bringing awareness to an issue, but maybe I haven’t found that issue yet.

Q: If you could go back in time fifty years, what would you tell the world to do differently and why?

A: In my opinion, fifty years is not far enough, however, realizations already had been made of the direction we were heading, at that time. Fifty years ago I don’t believe we would have had a large receptive population.

Q: Do you see humankind making space travel an option in our future, if you were asked to go to another world, would you choose to go?

A: I see space travel as a future option thanks to the innovation of private industry. I would go.

Q: What advice do you have for artists just starting out?

A: Stay with it. Do what you love to do.

13. If you had full funding for any project, what would it be?

A: Too many things come to mind. I would love to follow the burgeoning U.S. space race. I would love to give coverage to yesterday’s continuing tragedy, whatever that may be. People don’t stop suffering because we found the next shiny object on the news. We just forget.

Q: If you were to attribute any emotional, spiritual, or physical context to your art, what would it be? Is there a story behind the image, a feeling, a dream or belief?

A: Part of what I like to capture at Wasteland Weekend is sincere expression. Not the glamorous, courageous, dangerous, edgy bravado that people put on for posed photographs. I like to capture the two friends that finally meet up halfway through the event, that have not seen each other since last year’s event. I like to capture the will of the folks not used to the dust, wind, and heat, making their way through the public thoroughfares, like they are pushing on through the wastes. I like to capture the laugh and the smile of someone just having a good time. I like capturing the image of someone that is spreading their wings a little, having dressed for the event as someone they are in their heart and not forced to be by society.

R.L. Marlett’s website: