Have you ever wished you could transport yourself directly into the world of your favorite book or movie? Two years ago, I was able to do just that, and it was one of the most memorable, affecting, and inspiring experiences of my life. Being a huge fan of Dune, Frank Herbert’s epic series of science fiction novels, I was extra excited when I had the chance to spend time among the magical and otherworldly landscape of Cappadocia in central Turkey: the surreal geology and secret cities just underneath the surface (like those in the novels) left a lasting impression on me creatively, and what I "see" when I am making photographs.
Cappadocia includes Göreme National Park, and is famous for unique cone-shaped rock formations known as Fairy Chimneys that cover the valleys like a silent forest of sentinels guarding the entrances to the vast networks of hidden caverns and tunnels. The city systems, like the 8th century BCE Derinkuyu Underground City, were once shelter to thousands and included schools, industry, and churches. (In fact, people still live in homes hewn from the rocks, and staying in a "cave hotel" is a popular option for visitors.) Only a small fraction of the underground cities have been excavated, and more are continually discovered, while hundreds of churches hide in plain sight all around you.
Ever fascinated by nature’s artistic efforts, I was thrilled to have seven days to explore some of the most unique and sculptural geology on Earth, and from all angles: on foot and on horseback, from the sky and underground.
Seeing and experiencing this surreal place stays with me, and still inspires how I find many possibilities, double existences, and mystery when I look through a lens. When photographing the skulls for my Anatomical series and reviewing the images, I was struck by how much they looked like strange landscapes, and how strongly the feelings of awe and fascination inspired by my real-life Dune adventure amongst the spectacular geology of Cappadocia came flooding back.
Fairy Chimneys (SKULL 15)
I see two of the magical rocky spires rising up to the sky...