Sable Island Horses have a huge fan

The Chronicle Herald:

Sable Island horses have a huge fan

by TIM ARSENAULT

ROBERTO DUTESCO lives something of a dual life.

Professionally, he appears to have a very successful career as a fashion and celebrity photographer with his work appearing regularly in glossy doorstoppers such as Vogue and Vanity Fair.

On the other hand, he has his own gallery in New York City to exhibit and sell his large-scale art prints.

Geographically, he bases himself out of the media centre and ultimate urban jungle of Manhattan. But it’s a far more desolate island that’s stolen his heart.

Chasing Wild Horses, airing tonight at 9 p.m. on Bravo, is a startlingly beautiful documentary from Arcadia Entertainment of Halifax about Dutesco’s fascination with the horses of Sable Island.

It follows him from the airport in Halifax to the narrow strip of sand and grass about 300 kilometres from Nova Scotia. It’s a return trip that follows 10 years after his initial exposure to the stark beauty of Sable.

Dutesco is understandably fascinated by the wild horses that dot the unique landscape there. The site is well-known as the location of hundreds of shipwrecks over the last few centuries. Some of those ships evidently carried horses. Their descendents are the wild creatures that go about their business with only the handful of researchers on the island representing the possibility of any interaction with humans.

The filmmakers allow Dutesco to tell his story in his own words but there are passages in Chasing Wild Horses that rightfully don’t require any additional description. (If you don’t have a widescreen set, you may start to consider it after watching this.)

Phil Sedore’s score, comprised mostly of dreamily atmospheric solo guitar pieces, appropriately sets off the stunning visuals.

The photographer says there are about 300 horses on Sable and he evidently has cultivated relationships with some of them. At first, he’s shown keeping a respectful distance from the majestic animals, capturing their images through enormous lenses. As he gets closer he starts talking. At first, he’s sort of talking to himself. Then you realize he’s beginning to cajole the horses to pose just as he would a model.

Dutesco notes in Chasing Wild Horses that Sable Island is roughly the same length as Manhattan though it’s only about as wide as Central Park, the famously designed natural oasis in the heart of the city. It must be those kinds of similarities within his parallel worlds that allow him to feel as comfortable in the middle of nowhere as he does in the centre of the universe.

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