Last fall, after graduating from Yale’s MFA program in photography, the artist Anabelle DeClement started a new job working at a photo shop in Manhattan, where she spent her days engaging with photography enthusiasts of all stripes. Despite the varied clientele, however, DeClement noticed a pattern: much of the small talk offered up by her customers had a decidedly nihilistic bent. People seemed deflated by the world around them, often remarking, “Well, the world is ending,” or, “I mean, nothing matters”—deadened, space-filling remarks indicating a pervasive feeling of hopelessness and impotence.

DeClement’s newest project, under the double moon (2022–23), is a reaction to that despondency. “I’ve been thinking a lot about how easy it is to get caught in a way of seeing the world, or get caught in one way of being,” she told me over the phone in January. Her newest body of work is adamant that we have the capacity to change the way we see the world around us. “It’s about the desire for a collective perspective shift,” she said. In order to question the order of things, she continued, “Sometimes you have to be taken out of yourself.”

But what does it mean to change your perspective? Casting about for an example, DeClement stumbled upon an article about the actor William Shatner and his long-awaited visit to space. While aboard the capsule, Shatner experienced the “overview effect,” a term coined by philosopher Frank White that describes “a cognitive and emotional shift in a person’s awareness, their consciousness, and their identity” when they view our planet from space. For his part, Shatner cried when he looked out at the luminous world below him. “I had to go off some place and sit down and think, ‘what’s the matter with me?’” he told NPR last year. “And I realized I was in grief.” 

DeClement, who grew up in New Jersey, spent her time at Yale creating work that centers on the relationship between reality and surreality. Her photographs often play into the viewer’s expectations in order to subvert them. Moreover, nature is a central “voice” in her work, as she puts it, and her images force a mental confrontation about how we’ve chosen to interact with the people and places around us. 

Throughout all of DeClement’s work, mirrors crop up with notable frequency. Composition-wise, she said, she likes playing with reflections because they confuse the frame, creating unexpected layers that draw the viewer in and force them to engage further with her photographs. Thematically, the visual echoes represent a state of being that DeClement wants to buck. “Sometimes we get stuck in a pattern of reflecting off one another,” she told me, “Where we’re just reverberating the same energies and perspectives.”

Everything feels ephemeral right now. People are exhausted by darkly entwined political and cultural atmospheres—not to mention the critical but overwhelming message that the world around us is actively dying. It’s easy, DeClement noted, to slide into the endemic feelings of futility. So how do we fight to keep perspective? For DeClement, the answer lies in her photographic lens on the world. “This project is a way of saying, Well, maybe that’s all true, but there are also all these other things going on at the same time,” she told me. “Even within a catastrophic future, there’s still desire and hope and the need to connect.”

Anabelle DeClement’s photographs were created using a FUJIFILM GFX50SII camera and EF-X500 flash.

All photographs by Anabelle DeClement from the series under the double moon (2022–23), for Aperture

Keep up with the latest in Aperture’s community newsletter.