On Emptiness: Namib Desert, Namibia

On Emptiness: Namib Desert, Namibia

This seemingly never-ending, empty landscape of the Namib Desert forces one photographer to reflect

this time of being stuck at home – in quarantine at first and
now on lockdown – my mind has wandered to past travels. I’ve
fantasised about recent, short and close-to-home trips, both for
work and to visit friends and family. I’ve relived the
journeys that took me to the other side of the world, where
everything I saw was new and the people I met were so

Yet there’s one particular destination to which my mind keeps
returning. Two years ago I drove through the Namib desert, camping
on top of the car in between navigating the sandy landscape.

It struck me hard, the emptiness there. Though we would drive
for hours, our surroundings barely changed. Sandy dunes rose one
after the other, too many to count, punctuated by rocky formations.
There were enormous salt flats where the heat was unbearable, the
sunshine was harsh and water was scarce. Withered trees cast strong
shadows. We often didn’t see any other living being.

We climbed the dunes, not once, but multiple times, beginning
our ascent well before sunrise in order to reach the top before the
heat of the day set in. We’d then drive around, stopping often,
until sunset came. Come evening, we would set up the tents, sit
down around a small, self-made fire, open a beer and reminisce
about the day. There was so much to talk about.

The purpose of the trip was very clear, the schedule packed –
and yet when we were there in the empty landscape, time stood
still. Life stood still. Nothing seemed to matter that much
anymore. Sinking into the atop the sand dunes, I felt as if all
sound disappeared. Walking between them, I felt so small. Things
become distant, the mind becomes quiet.

This seemingly never-ending, empty landscape forces you to think
and makes you reflect on yourself. Maybe that’s why, in this time
of turmoil, my mind can’t stay away from the Namib.

@renee_kemps | reneekemps.com

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