CATTEDRALE EX MACELLO
VIA CORNARO 1
MON TO SUN 10.00 a.m. – 7.00 p.m.
Location: AUSTRALIA, GREECE, CANADA, USA.
As global temperatures rise, this work is my response to the unprecedented increase in wild fires around the world. Since the start of 2020 I have travelled to Australia, Greece, Canada and the USA to document the aftermath of fires that had destroyed homes, killed numerous people and burnt millions acres of land. All these areas had experienced some of their highest temperatures ever recorded, precipitating these infernos.
I choose not to document the burning flames, but rather seek out their aftermath, the traces left behind on lives and landscapes. Central to this is a series of portraits shot in devastated communities around the world. Framed by the skeletons and ashes of their burnt homes my subjects engage the camera inviting us to witness with the scorched world that surrounds them. With ghostly charred remains we also see the impact of this climate emergency on forests and areas of natural beauty along with more urban environments.
In these high severity burns, shrubs and stumps are reduced to ash, the soil itself changes and even beneath the ground tree roots are burned. The resulting ‘moonscapes’ can take many years to regenerate. Climate change is the main culprit but it has not acted alone. A long history of ignoring the advice of indigenous communities and suppressing natural fire, the kind needed to keep forests healthy, has only made the problem worse.
To quote Sharyn Wotton, who I photographed in Australia: “We’ve pissed Mother Nature off big time, and she’s paying us back”.
ABOUT GIDEON MENDEL
Gideon Mendel’s intimate style of image-making and long-term commitment to socially engaged projects has earned international recognition. Born in Johannesburg in 1959, Mendel began his career as a news and ‘struggle’ photographer documenting the final years of apartheid. This experience marked him deeply, and much of his subsequent work has been engaged with the key issues facing his generation. In 1991 he moved to London, and continued to respond to global concerns, especially HIV/ AIDS. Since 2007, using stills and video, Mendel has been working on Drowning World; an art and advocacy project about flooding that is his personal response to our climate crisis. His work has been widely published in magazines and newspapers including National Geographic, Geo and the Guardian Weekend. His images have been used in climate protests while his photographs; installations and video pieces are increasingly seen in gallery and museum contexts. Mendel has received the inaugural Jackson Pollock Prize for Creativity and the Greenpeace Photo Award. Shortlisted for the Prix Pictet in 2015 and 2019, he has also received the Eugene Smith Award for Humanistic Photography, the Amnesty International Media Award, and six World Press awards. Mendel has recently developed some new projects addressing the Covid-19 crisis and has extended his work on global warming to include the element of fire.