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Story | Origins of desARTification

Nik Barte. The photographer that speaks
the language of the Desert.





Nik Barte knows the secrets of the deserts and he understands them quite intimately, which is undeniably perceptible from his work. Actually, the outstandingly profound visual exploration of Nature and the thoroughly authentic aesthetic study of the desert of Sahara define the cardinal elements of his personal artistic signature as a photographer.

There are two primary assumptions for Barte’s originality and creativeness – his profound love and immense respect for Mother Nature in her wholeness. Structured upon these core values, his artistic approach is truly genuine, rigorous and extremely consistent, nearly spiritual, characterized by highly demanding analysis, extensive study and meticulous, almost scientific, attention for every detail. His intent while observing is to see beyond the obvious, to look at facts, people, objects and places with different eyes, from different angles, different perspectives, always searching for the invisible, trying to remain perceptive for a deeper meaning, using generously his unique sensibility and intuition, exploring and witnessing conditions that most of the people often ignore. 


"If the Earth suffers, we suffer, too", he says and keeps on accomplishing what he defines as his mission - generating a wakeup call for the dormant consciousness of the humanity. “How cannot we see that we are hurting our own Mother, the Nature?” “How cannot we be aware that we are destroying the only Home we got, the Planet Earth?” “How can we ignore that we are causing our own extinction?” The concerns about these issues mist with his sincere angst are more than a creative fuel for him; they are reasons for his action based on his personal refusal to passively observe the destruction of the world and thus his art becomes his articulate weapon in the awareness raising battle. 

"The outstandingly profound visual exploration of Nature and the thoroughly authentic aesthetic study of the desert of Sahara define the cardinal elements of Nik Barte’s personal artistic signature as a photographer."

The deepest intention of Barte’s entire photographic work is to activate the original emotional memory of the civilization by delivering a primordial truth on what it really means to be a human being. His wholehearted ambition is to inspire feelings that would hopefully result in attentive considerations about the actual meaning of being alive on this planet and understanding the primary responsibilities of receiving the precious gift of life. To achieve this, he is using the art of photography. His language is pure, minimalist and honest, free from any manipulation. Often symbolic and with strong references to the pareidolia phenomenon, his photographs are clean and elemental, timeless and intimate, almost always in black and white.


Perpetually curious, firmly determined and absolutely loyal to his principles, Nik Barte truly owns his artistic guidelines and personal beliefs. Moreover, his entire life-style is also defined by exactly the same values and priorities and therefore, in order to translate them in terms of photography, he has chosen to dedicate a considerable part of his life to continuous studies and traveling.


Actually, what he considers as his very first ‘desert initiation’ occurred in the distant 1993. It was the Mojave Desert in California that made him feel contemporaneously enchanted, confused and definitely intrigued: he experienced a strong sensation of being thoroughly absorbed by the vastness of that unusual space barren of life. He felt puzzled and disoriented, but at the same time hypnotized by some mysterious voices of living presence. None of these feelings were comprehensible to him, but everything was so intense, so much real. He never forgot the impact of this first-time impression and indeed, it happened to be the rite of passage for Nik Barte. He couldn’t help but to pursue that drive, that irresistible attraction towards the desert that many years later led him to what he defines as his personal calling - to be an Earth observer, a witness to Mother Nature, an Essence of Beauty researcher and last but not least, a desARTificator.

"Barte’s artistic approach is truly genuine, rigorous and extremely consistent, nearly spiritual, characterized by highly demanding analysis, extensive study and meticulous, almost scientific, attention for every detail. His intent while observing is to see beyond the obvious, to look at facts, people, objects and places with different eyes, from different angles, different perspectives, always searching for the invisible, trying to remain perceptive for a deeper meaning, using generously his unique sensibility and intuition, exploring and witnessing conditions that most of the people often ignore."

Only a year later, in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification was established. Extremely considerate about environmental problems, in the years to come he became utterly focused on the growing danger of the desertification as one of the major threats for the life on Earth. However, what confounded him and made him profoundly upset was the evident human indifference in the face of the global climate danger, as well as the total lack of awareness and responsiveness. “How could it be possible that people don’t care about life anymore?”, he worried and wondered. And thus decided that it was the right moment to go back to the desert, exactly ten years after his first encounter and that defining experience. This time he needed to be there in order to search for some answers, both as a human being and a photographer.

In 2003 Nik Barte initiated series of expeditions in different parts of the desert of Sahara. There, between the sky and the dunes, where “everything” and “nothing” seem to be just about the same, the most important part of his photographic studies took place. His aesthetics research developed in a completely new direction, the imagery he produced became mature, his creative work evolved. The Barte’s photographs of the desert represent a true exploration of the human soul. His upstanding devotion to the glorious beauty and essential wisdom of the Mother Nature grew even more. By faithfully listening to the desert he discovered his own authentic visual language and his truthful expressiveness. He found his true journey, both personal and artistic and the desert became his genuine lifetime obsession. Great Sand Sea, White Desert, Black Desert, Qattara Depression, Karafish Desert, Gilf el Kebir Desert, Wan Kasa, Erg Murzuq, Abu Muharrik are some of the areas where, due to research, he stayed in a total solitude for different periods of time, several days to several weeks and sometimes for an entire month. 

"The deepest intention of Barte’s entire photographic work is to activate the original emotional memory of the civilisation by delivering a primordial truth on what it really means to be a human being."

Nik Barte is the photographer that speaks the language of the desert.

Perfectly aware that “the essential is invisible to the eye”, he masters a particularly strong genius of framing emotions and thoughts into imagery. His mission is to deliver the ancient messages that seem to have been forgotten, to activate a primordial memory of the mutual belonging to the same Home and especially of the notion that we are all connected. The desert is a stage where the ego becomes transparent, where the truth of the world speaks directly to the heart and grasps the delicate depths of the human condition. Through his photographs Barte amazingly captures and delivers centuries of prayers, songs, poetry, stories, thousands of years of human soul history. That is why his work becomes a powerful expression of the oneness of the humanity. 

This is where the story of desARTification has its origins.

“The Barte’s photographs of the desert represent a true exploration of the human soul.”





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