Since its inception, photography has testified to the paradoxical relationship between man, nature and technology. In the wake of great nineteenth-century landscape photographers, a new generation of artists is employing contemporary imaging techniques to document and question our relationship with the natural world – which is increasingly experienced through the very same imaging technologies they employ. Photography enables us to observe this world and the effects of our existence in it. But can it also function as a catalyst for alternative ways of engaging with our environment?
On Earth brings together the work of 25 contemporary artists who use innovative imaging strategies to reflect on the evolving relationship between humans and nature. Besides photography, the artists make use of installation, sculpture, in-game photography and video. With a few exceptions, image-makers no longer traverse the land – camera in hand – to document their surroundings. Photographers such as Thomas Albdorf, Drew Nikonowicz and Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács employ social media, image search engines, Google Maps, virtual reality and other visual tools to unpick our increasingly mediated and screen-based experience of the landscape.
The inherent interconnectedness between (imaging) technology and the our experience of the natural landscape becomes apparent in the work of Mark Dorf and Lucas Foglia, who prove that our definition of what constitutes nature is largely dependent on human engineering. The power of the image to evidence (or obscure) the devastating effects of human engagement with the land is explored by artists such as Matthew Brandt and Anouk Kruithof, while artists such as Melanie Bonajo and Adam Jeppesen present alternative ways of connecting to nature.
The various visual approaches diverge and converge throughout the exhibition, showing how artists seek to both scrutinise and reconcile our technological, socio-economical, spiritual and political connection with the world.
Thomas Albdorf (1982, Austria), Jonathas de Andrade (1982, Brazil), Jeremy Ayer (1986, Switzerland), Fabio Barile (1980, Italy), Melanie Bonajo, (1978, The Netherlands), Matthew Brandt (1982, United States), Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács (1974 / 1973, The Netherlands), Raphaël Dallaporta (1980, France), Mark Dorf (1988, United States), Lucas Foglia (1983, United States), Noémie Goudal (1984, France), Mishka Henner (1976, Belgium), Femke Herregraven (1982, The Netherlands), Benoît Jeannet (1991, Switzerland), Adam Jeppesen (1978, Denmark), Wang Juyan (1982, China), Anouk Kruithof (1981, The Netherlands), Mårten Lange (1984, Sweden), Awoiska van der Molen (1972, The Netherlands), Drew Nikonowicz (1993, United States), Mehrali Razaghmanesh (1983, Iran), Guillaume Simoneau (1978, Canada), Troika (Eva Rucki (1976, Germany), Conny Freyer (1976, Germany) and Sebastien Noel (1977, France)), Maya Watanabe (1983, Peru), Guido van der Werve (1977, The Netherlands)
The exhibition On Earth - Imaging, Technology and the Natural World is curated by Foam as part of the Rencontres d'Arles 2019 programme, which runs from 1 July until 22 September. Learn more about the festival here.
On Earth - Imaging, Technology and the Natural World is made possible by Kleurgamma Fine-Art Photolab and MIAP Foundation.
Foam is supported by the BankGiro Loterij, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, City of Amsterdam, Foam Members, Olympus and the VandenEnde Foundation.