Photographer Joe Pettet-Smith explores the future of humankind

Art Director Gem Fletcher introduces us to the work of London-based photographer Joe Pettet-Smith, whose current work examines the boundaries between science and fiction 

From the series Anarchy Tamed by Joe Pettet-Smith

Joe Pettet-Smith uses his photography to drive a conversation about our shared future. Interested in the intersection of science and fiction, utopia and dystopia, he seeks to open up a dialogue about the future of humankind.

In a series of immersive experiences and events, Pettet-Smith documents civilians participating in fake scenarios which enable them to role-play survival tactics in a fictional future. Standout projects include Anarchy Tamed, a document of Wasteland Weekend, the world’s biggest post-apocalyptic festival.

Inspired by the Mad Max franchise, attendees gather on dusty roads on the edge of the Mojave Desert with a promise of chaos and freedom. “This is a place where costumes are mandatory, of warring tribes, Thunderdome battles and Mad Max vehicle parades,” Pettet-Smith says. “Wasteland Weekend … offers participants escape from the pressures of contemporary society but also a cathartic way of dealing with an uncertain future.”

From the series Anarchy Tamed by Joe Pettet-Smith
From the series Anarchy Tamed by Joe Pettet-Smith

His latest project continues the apocalyptic theme. Preparations For Worst-case Scenario explores civilian training grounds designed to offer an immersive fantasy, where participants test their readiness for situations their future selves might encounter. This collision of real-world anxiety and entertainment is powerful and symbolises our primal desire to survive in a time of imminent undoing.