Mers et Rivières, a photographic exhibition on water – Sciences et Avenir

It is still time! It’s time to go see the puzzling water exhibition that runs at the Pavillon Populaire in Montpellier until January 16, 2022 and offers three series: The Danube Project (2005), The Waters of Hong Kong (2009-2010 ) and Kaunas in The Rivers (2017), by the German editor, artist and photographer Andreas Müller-Pohle. Founder in 1980 of the prestigious magazine European Photography, this talented representative of an experimental art, freed from the exclusive domain of technical automatisms and then focused on our modes of perception and the exploration of new technologies of visual production, leads the viewer along of the wave. . Environmental concern and contemplation fluctuate in his images, an invitation to shake the referents of our vision and questions about the vital importance of water for humanity.

Danube clinical history

In the 2000s, Andreas Müller-Pohle began long-term work on water and tested the “split screen” technique, the split screen, placing his camera between the water and the surface to show the top and bottom in the same image. His series on the Danube, which began in 2005, took him to follow the river’s course for almost 2,800 kilometers and in eight countries, from Germany to Romania, from its sources in the Black Forest to the mouth of the Black Sea.

A route that also collects water samples: the images show the data from the analyzes carried out, which from then on acquire the character of a fluvial health record in an instant T. Total organic carbon, ionic components, nitrate, phosphate , potassium, cadmium, mercury, lead … their levels are shown in the images and indicate the degree of contamination. Here he expresses the artist’s need to go beyond the visible, in an expansion of the artistic gesture that explores the hidden intimacy of natural elements. Would the separation of the screen in two also be the symbol of the limits of our own perception of the world? It stops at the surface, dives farther with difficulty, and, even more rarely, enters the process of decrypting invisible data. This is the case with our attitude to the environmental crisis …

A committed testimony

Andreas Müller-Pohle says he is fascinated by the Asian megalopolis in which he has lived for a long time, and that is evident in his series: “The waters of Hong Kong”, produced between 2009 and 2010. From this city dominated by the verticality of its architecture emphasizes the dependence on water, submission to the threat of rising sea levels, and an infinite circular link between the constructions and the myriad of canals that carve out an undulating, moving water landscape. Here again, the artist’s choice produces a perceptual disturbing effect: the tensions, waves and eddies that come to lick, surround and almost invade the towering heights of the towers evoke symbiosis and danger. Quickly submerged, even submerged, by this element at once alive and cloudy, the viewer is connected to the water by the subtlety of the frame, which draws and unites the two worlds, liquid and aerial. One carries boats, rubbish, scrap metal, leaves and roots on its surface, the other reveals the vertiginous human constructions, pieces of cities strangely perched on the waves.

In Lithuania, it was in the city of Kaunas that Andreas Müller-Pohle’s target landed, during a short artistic residency. Kaunas is located at the confluence of a river, a river, and an artificial lake. And unlike the profusion of tourist and commercial river activities on the Danube or the impressive water-concrete duality of Hong Kong, the artist reflects in this series the melancholy of the place, it is a silent mirror of greenery and bucolic landscapes that flow innocently in the rivers. Far from the calamities of modernity, which we forget for a moment. Time for some photos. Because the remarkable work of this artist on water, impregnated with poetry, nevertheless remains a shocking and committed testimony of the fragility of the world.

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