Photographer Michel Comte: “Light” Explores the Impact of Environmental Decline on Glacial Landscapes

Michel Comte, Light, 2017, Aialik Glacier
Light
Michel Comte
MAXXI Museum – Via Guido Reni, 4/a, 00196 Rome
November 14 – December 10, 2017
Curated by Jens Remes
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 about environmental decline, which 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 realized 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,” he says.
Opening at the MAXXI Museum in Rome, Light is study of natural landscapes through large-scale sculptures, photography, video installations and projections. Comte returned to the same places for more than 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 incite 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.”
 
Following the opening of Light at the MAXXI Museum in Rome on November 14, Michel Comte will present Black Light, a large-scale installation to be unveiled on November 28 at the Triennale di Milano.
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Andrea K. Hammer, founder and director of Artsphoria Magazine, is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer. She has published articles in international publications. Through this expanded edition of Artsphoria, she invites fellow artists, writers, innovators and creative thinkers to join our conversation!