Visions of Utopia

“Do you think that the first space colony created by mankind will happen during your lifetime?” asks Serena Dzenis, a lens-based artist from Australia, who now resides in Iceland. The photographer is best known for work surrounding science, conservation and environmental issues. 2021 ± II: Utopia Broadcasting, shown here, is one such example – questioning the idea of making humans multiplanetary.

With plans to colonise Mars continuing to make headlines, and Nasa’s Perseverance rover already collecting data on the planet, Dzenis’ goal is “to transport the viewer’s imagination to another world that exists outside of time.” Dreamy compositions document structures found within the Icelandic landscape. Water towers, office buildings and other industrial buildings are set against pastel skylines: baby pinks fading into light blues and dusty purples. It’s a departure from traditional scientific imagery.

The works are somewhat reminiscent of Bernd and Hilla Becher – the German collaborative duo best known for capturing disappearing industrial structures across 20th century Europe and North America. Yet Dzenis’ images capture a new age of human construction and curiosity – a moment marked by digital growth and environmental crisis. They open conversations surrounding “the wonders and dangers associated with science, futurism and dreams for a better life, amidst the darker side of human ideals.”

In this way, Utopia Broadcasting draws newfound attention to the human constructions already on Earth, and the potential cost of further expansion. “Technology has advanced so quickly over the past few years,” Dzenis continues. “In the overall scheme of things, we’re just a flash in the pan – and yet we’ve done so much to change our planet. Humankind is leaving a profound legacy on Earth, exploiting its resources to turn it into the paradise we want it to be. Or perhaps, saying farewell to a paradise that we’ve already lost.”

Serena Dzenis is the winner of the Aesthetica Editorial Award, offered through the 2022 Belfast Photo Festival – Open Submission. 


Image Credits:
1. Cyber Heartbeat, Serena Dzenis, Iceland, 2021.
2. Waterworld, Serena Dzenis, Iceland, 2021.
3. Where Dreams Are Made, Serena Dzenis, Iceland, 2021.
4. Paradiso, Serena Dzenis, Iceland, 2021.
5. Return to Tomorrow, Serena Dzenis, Iceland, 2021.
6. Dreamcode, Serena Dzenis, Iceland, 2021.