For Italian photographer Vittoria Gerardi (b. 1996), a stay in the desert landscape of California was both physically and mentally challenging. Death Valley, one of the hottest and driest places on earth, can have an intense effect on a person. Its extremes force one to reach certain limits.

Feeling confined by these tough conditions, Gerardi went searching for a way out, a horizon to reach for while the actual horizon was blurred by the heat. The intensity of her experience couldn’t be represented by a straightforward depiction and so, through interventions in the darkroom, Vittoria opted for an alternative reflection on Death Valley. The essence of its light – so blinding it can be confusing – is transmitted by a play of chemicals and photographic paper. Landscapes are fragmented and repeated, warped into a sequence of hallucinogenic images.

The impossibility of escaping the blistering heat and relentless sun gives a new dimension to both light and time. The processing of both is hard to control, as is life in Death Valley.

Vittoria Gerardi is represented by Galerie Thierry Bigaignon (Paris, France) and mc2gallery (Milan, Italy).