The word ‘relic’ ultimately derives from the Latin verb relinquere, meaning ‘to leave behind’. Now the word is still used to refer to something left behind after decay or disappearance. We have to ask ourselves: do we want a planet where the sole role of our cultural differences and of the biodiversity we are surrounded with is one of relics?

Kenya. Up front I did not know what to expect. Afterwards, I did not know what to depict, did not know which stories to tell; there are many stories that need to be told, that need to be heard.


Stories about standing in front of the humbling collossalness of the elephant, about beholding the lion’s portrayal of its fearless felinity, or about the intrinsic jumps of joy when witnessing the playful and innocent curiosity of the giraffe.


But even more so the stories about the ongoing conflict between men and animal, and between animal and men, there and here.  We need to tell stories on how the thirst for money seeps into the ground like corrupt vines, infecting and killing local culture and wildlife, leaving nothing but a grayish blandness that numbs your tastebuds.


With this composition of pictures, I tell those stories, I depict those stories. With this composition of pictures, I let you experience what I have experienced. I want you to look, I want you to see.


Of course, I cannot tell you what you should see, but I can show you what I see. Black and white imagery for me depicts the discoloration of nature’s pallet of feeling and emotions, and together with the saturation of the image it shows the gradualness of this process, making the process going easily unnoticed. Using the colour of blood allows me to underline the role we humans play in this process – we all have blood on our hands.


The influence of mankind is undeniably strong and the potential devastation that comes with that influence is an aspect that people should be made aware of. We all should be made aware of the beauty we are losing, the rainforests that are disappearing and the wildlife populations that are decreasing by the day. We all need awareness of how we are slowly losing those certain lifelong traditions that connect us with our surroundings. In Western society where speed and efficiency come first, there is little space and time for authentic and balanced ways of living. Due to the speed, we not only lose contact with our environment, but even more so we become increasingly distant from how we should essentially interact with our planet.


In Kenya, I was allowed to see the Masaai culture firsthand, provided with the opportunity to experience and learn. Unfortunately, I could see on a daily basis how aspects of my own society had started to trickle down drop for drop into Kenyan culture, including that of the Masaai.


I see how our unsaturated human behaviour results in the annexation of our shared planet, which exists for all humans and for all animals. Seeing this impact firsthand, at some point made me wonder whether it was even right for me to be there. Viewing and positioning myself as an observer in itself could already be considered wrong, for who is to decide who is the observer and who is the observee. As such, the feeling of being out of line started to increase with every day, I have never felt so confronted with the fact that we are all part of the problem.


In Kenya animals are slowly being driven to the outer edges of the land and gradually disappear due to something as small as our daily cup of coffee. The growing demand for coffee leads to the deforestation of large areas over the past decades to maximize sun exposure. The animals seek refuge, but the space they are given does not allow it, being further and further limited to move freely. This invokes more and more conflicts between humans and animal. But who decides how to solve such conflicts?


For me the question arises whether we can deny anybody to use their land the way they want to. Can we frown upon Kenyan farmers expanding their fields to feed needs that are no different from our own? Can we raise an eyebrow to how Masaai treat the wildlife threatening their crops and livelihood? How did we Europeans treat the wandering wolves that threatened us and our livestock? I wonder how we would respond if our greenhouses and crops would be rampaged and destroyed multiple times a year by a herd of elephants.


It is not until we ourselves change our own way of living that we will have a chance to preserve our planet together. The faster we live, the faster life decays.


Does this mean that everything we do is wrong, that no matter what we do, everything will crumble to dust? Of course not, but unfortunately it is not as simple as an action always being wrong, or always being right; actions will always need to be contextualized. There are inspirational examples of wildlife foundations that take into account the perspective and interests of both animal and men, trying to achieve that right balance by viewing the impact of their actions from every possible angle. Learning from such initiatives will enable us to build that balanced future for all of life.


The beauty of human and animal life is how, with all of our similarities and all of our differences, we are all part of nature’s existential wholebeing that is truly bigger than each one of us and truly bigger than us all.


The true privilege we as humans have been granted however, is that we can be aware of that beauty.