Two Deserts: From Form’s latest exhibition traces the changing shape of the Californian desert

Ahead of the release of a short film that has been six years in the making, creative studio From Form has exhibited a series of photographs that chart the ever-shifting shape of the Californian desert.

Over the last six years, Ashley Govers and Jurjen Versteeg, the husband-and-wife team behind independent creative studio From Form, have been busily working on a short film chronicling the Californian desert. Titled Two Deserts, the documentary promises to playfully explore the relationship between humans and nature.

Six years is a fair old time to wait for a premiere, though. So, to whet appetites, the pair are currently exhibiting photos from the film at the Hofbogen creative hub in Rotterdam, which, as fortune would have it, is the exact same space where From Form first started their studio.

“Tracing the transforming Californian desert in the past and present, Two Deserts is a 25′ documentary that playfully explores the relationship between humans and nature,” the pair explains. “A combination of analogue film and photography, stop-motion animation, paintings, letterpress printing, scale models, and built sets create a rich visual universe in which the story unfolds.”

Speaking of the story, Two Deserts is an account of Randall Henderson, the editor and publisher of DESERT Magazine. In fact, the title of the film itself is a reference to his oft-quoted debut editorial, where he opines that “There Art Two Deserts,” one a grim desolate wasteland, the other the real desert with hidden gifts that pass by the superficial observer.

“Fighting the era’s stigma, he presented his readers with a romanticised version of the desert. Something he called the real desert.”

During the Second World War, Henderson’s son and hiking companion was tragically killed in action. Shortly afterwards, he resigned from DESERT magazine, but he would continue to explore the desert and write about it for various publications. However, the aftermath of his tragic loss is the focus of Two Deserts.

“When the loss of his son confronts him with the harsh reality, he decides to escape into his self-created dream world,” explains Ashley and Jurjen. “Set against the rapidly changing California desert, Randall searches for answers to existential questions. But where does reality end and imagination begin in a landscape of false perspective?”

There’s still a while to go until viewers can enjoy the film, but the collection of photos on display at Man Met Brill Koffie gives us an idea of what to expect. “Inspired by its vast landscapes and distinct light, this series captures graphic compositions found throughout Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree, Palm Springs, Twentynine Palms, and LA.”

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