Longing for Landscape.
Photography in the Anthropocene
1 October 2016 – 26 January 2017
Tieranatomisches Theater der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Photographs of landscapes have the power to induce yearning. The image of a distant wooden mountain or the shot of a rugged coastline make us pause and wonder: how would it feel to be there? We frequently feel that landscape images reflect an unspoilt world, yet this longing perspective clashes with society’s need for progress and growth.
The term ‘Anthropocene,’ coined by a group of geologists at this century’s beginning, aims to describe the new epoch of geological time in which human activity is considered a major influence on the environment. With the expansion of cities and industrialized agriculture, humankind is leaving ever more indelible signs of its existence on the planet’s surface. How do these factors, steered predominantly by politics and economic policies, influence our living environment and the climate? Is it appropriate to take on a reproachful critical stance? Or should we accept that the history of the earth and the history of mankind are so strongly intertwined that they cannot be considered independent of each other any longer?
Since its invention, photography has been a means for photographers to record changes in landscapes. Photographic motifs such as industrial plants, construction sites, and symptoms of environmental exploitation already came into focus in 1975, when the exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape – featuring works by Robert Adams, Stephen Shore, Bernd and Hilla Becher, et al.,- signaled a radical shift from traditional depictions of landscape. With unromanticized views of raw industrial landscapes and suburban sprawl, the exhibition bid farewell to the idealized view of a nature untouched by man.
In what way has photographic expression changed since then? Which aspects of the anthropocene idea find their way into the works of contemporary photographers? The exhibition Longing for Landscape – Photography in the Anthropocene centers on the notion of the photographer as researcher of anthropogenic structures, who depicts shifts in the contemporary landscape. The respective working process plays an important role.
With works by Olaf Otto Becker, Marcelo Fiuza, Constanze Flamme, Bernhard Fuchs, Lois Hechenblaikner, Sanna Kannisto, Milo Newman, Hans-Christian Schink, Jem Southam, John Volynchook
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