Widely known as one of world’s top photographers, Michel Comte presents for the first time a new body of work, Light, which explores the impact of environmental decline on the glaciers and glacial landscapes of the world.
Ten years ago, Comte stopped commercial work to focus on this private passion that has developed into his most extensive project so far. A keen climber and aviator, Comte has been portraying glacial landscapes for the past 30 years.
“When my grandfather [the Swiss pioneer aviator] Alfred Comte crossed the Alps in 1914 for the first time, he came back with the most stunning images of shining glaciers. Gigantic white masses covered the mountain ranges. Almost a century later, I climbed many peaks and realised the fast decline of our glaciers and global ice caps. For decades, I have been revisiting and taking many images from open helicopters, gliding between clouds or simply climbing and witnessing the vanishing icecaps and glaciers of the world”, notes the artist.
Light is study of natural landscapes through large-scale sculptures, photography, video installations and projections. Comte returned to the same places for over a decade to record the alterations in landscape and light patterns. His portraits of the glacial landscape challenge the tradition of classical landscape photography, alternating close-up and partial details with very occasional panoramic views and abstract, vaguely suggestive structures to expose the unpredictable, almost moody nature of these giants. Juxtaposing their gradual disappearance and fragility with their enormous strength, mystery and monumentality, the savage rawness of these images cannot but encite awe, anger and frustration at their erosion and loss. Light is not only an exquisite series of landscapes: it is a reminder of the truth, a highly political statement and a call to arms.
“With Light, I want to demonstrate, that we have the power to create a better and cleaner future...This exhibition demonstrates the rapid process of change and the rising level of the oceans and decline of the remaining ice masses that are essential for our survival”. Until Sunday, 19 November, the facade of the museum will be lit by Michel Comte's astonishing projection of a melting glacier. The lobby of the museum will also house a sculpture / installation as part of the Light project.
As Light presents the effects of climate change over glacier landscapes in such in a powerful way, WWF Italia has decided to collaborate with the project. The opening at MAXXI museum will coincide with the launch of the WWF campaign, Planet is Calling. It aims to raise the awareness of the need for concrete responses to the undeniable signs of how our planet reacted to climate change in 2017.
Following the opening of Light in Rome on 14 November, Comte will present White Light, Black Light, a large-scale installation to be unveiled on 28 November at the Triennale di Milano. WWF will promote a range of climate-change awareness-raising activities that complement both stages of the project.