Lecture 'The Terrible Nature of Nature' - Sanne Peper

By showing segments of her two latest projects Sanne Peper wants to address the Romantic notion of the sublime, the juxtaposition of beauty and terror, resulting in a feeling of awe.

In the project Black Noise A Trinity Trilogy (2006 – 2009) Peper tried to deal with the concept of total annihilation by the atomic bomb by photographing nature in its di erent appearances: the barren landscape around Los Alamos in New Mexico, USA, the birthplace of the bomb; the political landscape of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan; and nature taking over architecture in Chernobyl, Ukraine. During these trips she discovered her own fear of nature, of its vastness and unpredictability. At the same time nature is of course terribly beautiful. Sublime, as in Kant’s de nition: combining beauty and terror, evoking a “negative lust”. It’s been her primary subject ever since and the backbone of the following project and book: Due to Lack of Interest Tomorrow Has Been Cancelled.

In 2008, following Southern Gothic literature and the documentary Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus by the British filmmaker Andrew Douglas about the music and the narrative tradition of the Deep South of the United States, Peper booked a flight to Atlanta, rented a cheap car and drove into Dixie. During the following seven years she researched this south­eastern part of the US extensively. Starting with the dark, sublime wilderness (The Beginning, 2008 and Nature, 2009), through the politics of fear, nostalgia and religion (Violence, 2010; Mortality, 2011 and Religion, 2012) she nally arrived at humankind (The Human Condition, 2013 and The End, 2014).

Sanne Peper (Haarlem, 1963) lives and works in Amsterdam. She majored in Fine arts at ArtEZ, Arnhem and studied photography at the AKI, Enschede. Peper has always been interested in the unreal, that which lies beneath the surface: the history and context of a place. Or the locus of a particular history. Although her medium is photography, which in itself carries the connotation of objectivity, she chooses subjects that are ambiguous and not easily translated into imagery. As a theatre photographer she works for numerous theatre companies including Dood Paard, Oostpool and Toneelgroep Amsterdam.

Poster for the KABK Studium Generale lecture with Sanne Peper on 9 February 2017
Studium Generale lecture series poster design by Gilles de Brock

Students react to the topic of Sanne Peper's lecture 'The Terrible Nature of Nature'

Installation by Suyoung Yang for the Studium Generale lecture 'The Terrible Nature of Nature' by Sanne Peper on Thursday 9 February 2017
Installation by Fine Arts student Suyoung Yang

Tips by Sanne Peper:

  • BBC, Andrew Dougles: Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus
  • Medea by Simon Stone for Toneelgroep Amsterdam
  • Edmund Burke: A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful.
  • Het sublieme verlangen [The Sublime Desire] by Jos de Mul

And the island she mentioned in her lecture:

  • Gunkan jima – literally ‘Battleship Island’ – is the nickname for Hashima Island because it has an uncanny resemblance to a military warship.



9 februari 2017 16.00 - 17:30


KABK Auditorium