This inquiry has its point of departure in a personal experience. For over twenty years, I have lived by the shores of a river that has become very polluted. I have long been observing the transformations of this stream, the changes in its ecosystems as well as the disappearance of some of the animal species that used to live in it. I wished to create a body of work that would bear witness to these man-made upheavals. Ecological disasters such as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico or the garbage slates forming on the oceans are becoming more frequent. Massive urbanization and industrialization have resulted in impoverished bio-diversity; they also bring risks for human health. The declining state of bodies of water certainly counts among the most worrisome environmental issues.
During a stay in southern Florida in 2008, I made some exploratory shots with a small submersible camera. Leaving crystal-clear waters to vacationers, I preferred to capture the turbid waters of navigation canals. Since then, I have acquired a watertight tank that allows me to photograph underwater environments of all kinds. I dive into troubled waters of dubious, uncertain origin. Underwater worlds are fascinating and spellbinding; seductive images of tropical seas readily come to mind. What I seek to show is something altogether different, as my work plays on the sense of wonder usually associated with underwater shooting.
The aquatic landscapes I probe are often been altered. They are sometimes actual deserts where nothing is left to see. The images I capture bear witness to this absence. I have observed dying ecosystems near New Jersey’s Chemical Coast and the marine cemetery of Rossville (Staten Island), where the shortage of dissolved oxygen is making life precarious. These desolate expanses are sometimes suffused in a wavering light endowing them with a strange, disturbing beauty. I photograph them from an unfamiliar vantage point, eschewing capture from shoulder height. These views from the inside create a relation of closeness between the onlooker and the site being documented. They take us closer to these environments by plunging us in their midst, as it were.
Up to now, I have taken shots in various lakes, rivers, swamps and in the sea. I have documented the Florida Keys, the Louisiana bayous, the Gulf of Mexico, The New York Bay and other areas. More than fifty large format images have been created. This project was mostly developed during artist residencies at A Studio In The Woods / Tulane University (New Orleans), Rauschenberg Residency (Captiva Island, Florida), The Studio of Key West (Florida) and Sitka Center for Art and Ecology (Oregon).
A body of work of a hundred large format images