At a critical moment for humanity we present the work of Gideon Mendel who has been bearing witness to our global climate emergency.
The Flood and Fire; Our Fragile Planet exhibition explores the evolution of Mendel’s practice, which has shifted from a traditional documentary approach to one that incorporates conceptual and metaphorical components. His on-going journey has involved more than twenty trips in response to climate disasters around the world ranging from the recent horrific fires in Australia to overwhelming floods in thirteen countries.
The resulting photographs feature people from some of the poorest and wealthiest communities on the planet, at the moment of disaster all equally vulnerable to the floods and flames that envelop them. The fundamental elements of fire and water become a levelling factor bringing Mendel’s subjects together in visual solidarity as they gaze directly at the camera, demanding the viewers close consideration of man-made global warming.
In these devastated landscapes reality can seem inverted. With surreal reflections and ghostly charred remnants we see the impressions of these climate events on both intimate personal spaces and areas of natural beauty. There is often an eerily precise symmetry to be found within the chaos.
Mendel has also collected an archive of physical objects and personal photographs, marked by the fires and floods of recent history. He presents these in ways that enhance their materiality and reflect the potential damage done to communal memory through climate change.
Mendel chooses not to photograph the expected moments of burning fires nor the surging flood. Rather, he seeks out the aftermath, challenging the expected representations of environmental calamity by giving us a visceral experience of the inundated lives and scorched textures left behind. Is this the world to come?