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Australia: the Aesthetic of the Apocalypse


The smoke from the fires produced this double sunrise, a rare meteorological phenomenon.
Double sunrise

2019 was a year like no other in Australia’s modern history. Fires relentlessly engulfed the country, reducing the already burnt to ashes over and again. That year, Australia faced its most devastating bushfire season on record, setting ablaze over 126,000 square kilometres (49,000 square miles) – an area the size of Greece – turning lush forest into barren wasteland. It was also the year that marked the record for the highest temperature ever documented, with Sydney nearing an unbearable 50°C (122°F).


One after the another, air conditioning systems failed, and the smoky haze outside suffocated the atmosphere, making every outside step excruciating. The fires claimed the lives of billions of animals. Even the birds, which could potentially flee from the danger, were defeated by the heat and smoke, their panting bodies echoed the distressed canaries signalling a catastrophe in a coal mine.


We tried our best to provide relief, replenishing bird baths with fresh, cool water, but often it was not enough. Sometimes, birds would tragically plummet from the sky mid-flight, choked by the very air that gave them flight in the first place.


In the midst of this catastrophic chaos, a particular beauty took form. The air, blurred and hazy, was laced with vibrant, intense hues, casting an ethereal glow over the landscape. It produced meteorological anomalies, such as a rare double sun. Moreover, the eerie beauty of these colours added a surreal dimension to bird photography, saturating it with shades unseen in calmer times.

Lorikeet escaping from fires, during 2019 Sydney bushfire
A lorikeet escaping from fires

The lorikeet picture embodies this fleeting spectacle. It’s a strictly limited edition, no more than 42 prints will ever be made. If you’re captivated by this stark, unfiltered moment, you can find it in my shop: https://www.ranfuchs.art/shop.

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