14 MARCH - 28 APRIL 2013
‘Landmark’ is a wide-ranging exhibition of important photographs by a roster of international artists working with landscape and environmental themes. It brings together for the first time in a major exhibition, relevant works by the most important 21st Century photographers working in a genre that has always occupied a central place in photography, but is today more relevant than ever.
Today the environment is at the heart of everyone’s concerns: rising sea levels, desertification, deforestation, the melting Poles and retreating glaciers, extinction of species on land and in sea, pollution of myriad forms, and many other ills trouble our minds on a daily basis.
Photographers are our eyes and ears, bringing the facts of what is happening to Planet Earth to our attention in insightful and eloquent ways. From straightforward, even brutal documents, through pithy and ironic commentaries, to poetic and enigmatic visions, many of the best photographers working today travel the world (or simply stay at home) looking around them at the ‘marks’ humans have made and are making on the land. They trek deep into the Arctic with cumbersome 19th-century plate cameras or send drones with 21st Century electronic eyes into the skies over China and Afghanistan.
A few photographers show us the last vestiges of a pristine nature, reminding us of what we are trampling on thoughtlessly in our rush for material progress; others show us the sullied Earth, scarred and overburdened; still others focus on the often bizarre attempts to create ‘new’ Edens - like island “paradises”, or “the World’s Biggest Indoor Tropical Forest” (claimed by Berlin), or Alpine ski slopes under a dome in the middle of the Arabian desert (proudly advertised by Dubai). And still other photographers show us nature fighting back - reclaiming towns and fields abandoned by an overreaching human population. The field of photography is being tilled with ingenuity and purpose!
It can even be argued that ‘landscape/environment’ is the most important and vital genre in contemporary photography, and it is no coincidence that the most notable names in the field today are associated with it: Mitch Epstein, Nadav Kander, Edward Burtynsky, Robert Adams, Simon Norfolk, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Lee Friedlander, Simon Roberts, Toshio Shibata, and Robert Polidori number among the masters featured in the show. To this group are added brilliant emerging talents: Pieter Hugo, Raphael Dallaporta, Michael Najjar, Olaf Otto Becker, Penelope Umbrico, Harry Cory Wright and a number of younger practitioners who have already left their own indelible ‘marks’ on landscape photography.
The exhibition is curated by William A. Ewing, the noted photographic curator and historian. As the author of many books and the curator of hundreds of exhibitions in Europe and the Americas over the past forty years, Mr Ewing brings a wide-ranging knowledge of the field and an acute eye to bear on this important and timely subject.