It is no coincidence that a term born almost for fun during a scientific convention has become one of the most used buzzwords in recent years. “Anthropocene” gives a good idea of how the impact of the human being is the driving force of almost all the changes taking place on our planet – it is something we take for granted now, but it has not always been so. Rather.
THOMAS DEMAND – Clearing / Lichtung, 2003 – One of the most explicit artists of the tension between reality and fiction inherent in the photographic medium, the German Demand captures ephemeral paper sculptures that reconstruct, with disarming precision, apparently everyday or banal, suddenly disturbing scenes.
© Thomas Demand -Courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2020
Until a few hundred years ago, nature was seen as a frightening and powerful divinity, capable of causing fear and trembling. By dint of eliminating every wild area of the planet, hectare after hectare, and of pushing more and more terrestrial and marine species to extinction, however, the ferocious Goddess has become more like a gentle kitten.
SIMEN JOHAN – Untitled # 203, 2019 – The artist, born in Norway and raised in Sweden, builds sophisticated and confusing mise-en-scène with a hybridization between traditional techniques and digital manipulation, composing images taken in completely different places, from the zoo under house at the rainforest in Costa Rica.
© Simen Johan, Courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York
It is for this reason that the contemporary attitude towards the natural world is substantially contradictory. They said it already in 2012 on Orion Magazine, in an essay entitled “False Idyll”: if today Nature, the one with a capital n, is seen as a generous divinity to protect and worship, a temple of calm and peace, it is mainly because man has made it so – and this domestication process is causing it to ruin.
RICHARD MOSSE – Dionaea Muscipula with Mantodea, 2019 – Mosse makes use of futuristic or obsolete technologies that is never free or discounted. In “Ultra” the Irish artist captures life hidden in the rainforest by exploring it at night with an ultraviolet light torch, thus showing in a new and unexpected way a fragile and complex ecosystem shaped over millions of years
© Richard Mosse. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
This ambivalence in the relationship with nature, so rooted in our historical moment, is necessarily reflected also in the way in which contemporary photographers represent it.
OLAF BREUNING – Bubble Rock, 2018 – The Swiss artist has developed his own personal aesthetic poised between art and kitsch, authentic and artificial, all held together by a pungent irony – his distinctive brand. Working with mixed techniques he creates a surreal universe in which everything around him is transfigured.
© Olaf Breuning, courtesy METRONOM
FLORIAN MAIER-AICHEN – Untitled, 2019 – The German photographer reinvents the traditional genre of “landscape photography” using a series of new and ancient techniques of image manipulation and giving life to parallel worlds, remote landscapes that veer from dreamlike to lysergic .
© Florian Maier-Aichen, courtesy of Blum & Poe, Los Angeles / New York / Tokyo and 303 Gallery, New York
The contrast between wild, uncontaminated, artificial and domesticated is made explicit in the works of very different artists such as Olaf Breuning, Thomas Demand, Simen Johan, Sanna Kannisto, Florian Maier-Aichen and Richard Mosse who give us back images of invented ecosystems, altered perceptions and dreamlike visions – as if to underline how Nature, the real one, is increasingly a mirage. And the ones responsible are us.
SANNA KANNISTO – Days of Departure I, 2015 – Whether in the Scandinavian woods or in the tropical forest, the Finnish photographer, with a deep knowledge of scientific iconography, creates her delicate tableau always working with live animals and often breaking the “fourth photographic wall ”with the backdrops of his portable field studio.
© Sanna Kannisto, courtesy METRONOM