Meet Nick Turner. He’s an artist who lives in Iceland. Iceland is world-renowned for having some of the planet’s most jaw-dropping natural beauty — volcanoes, the Northern Lights, glaciers — but did you know it also has a rather amazing horse population? Nick Turner knows that. He documents his Icelandic horse obsession with photos of him running naked among them.
We have Vice to thank for bringing attention to Turner, sharing some of his self-portraits in which he’s ‘becoming one with nature’ and all that stuff.
“I think there’s a misunderstanding about the work,” Turner tells Vice vertical Creators. “It’s not me just running wild with horses naked, or anything like that. Far from it, actually. I’m trying to project this idea of running with them and being in that world because that’s the dialogue I am having. I think man has a lot of primal, animal-like instincts.”
As a child, Turner was always comfortable in nature and around animals, preferring the company of horses to his classmates at school. “Some of these insecurities and feelings stayed with me growing up,” he explains. “The self-portraits mostly shot in nature or with horses became this experiment of trying to understand why, growing up, I felt so unconfident and like an outsider.”
Turner’s need for self-examination grew into a broader desire to understand human instincts, and his work eventually became a general statement about society itself. “I wanted to be part of the tribe, one of the horses, not just a man standing next to them,” he notes.
Sounds a bit like Equus — the Peter Shaffer play in which a psychiatrist treats a young guy with a pathological fascination with horses — doesn’t it? The play’s entire second act has the horse-obsessed character completely nude. Harry Potter alum Daniel Radcliffe famously portrayed the character on London’s West End (yep, nudity and all — link NSFW).
“I want the viewer to feel something when looking at my work, not just something attractive or interesting, but also the importance of nature and all its complexities, and how man interacts with it in society today,” Turner says about his work.
View more of Turner’s photographs here.
(Photos courtesy of Nick Turner and Twyla)
This story was originally published on March 17, 2017.