1 | Intro
Richard de Tscharner
Coexistence dans l’indifférence
from series Sudan
Courtesy Fondation Carène
Landscape photographer de Tscharner has long been fascinated by the traces left by previous civilisations on the land. Today’s ultra-mobile civilisation runs past these great pyramids – indifferent to them, as the photographer suggests in his title – as we rush from Point A to Point B. Will the accomplishments of our own civilisation still be visible thousands of years hence? The paltry asphalt road and flimsy telephone poles suggest that this is unlikely.
2 | Intro
Amrut Nagar #3, Mumbai, India
from series Dendritic cities
Courtesy Paul Kasmin Gallery, NYC
Polidori believes that civilisation is experiencing the end of industrialism, and he depicts this in an overlapping composite image that encourages us to pay attention to the detail – the same buildings but seen in subtly different contexts in each panel. Polidori notes that ‘The promise of industrialism was that more and more people could live longer and longer; get richer and richer. Now you can only have one of the three. You can have fewer people who live longer and longer, richer and richer, or you can have more people who live less long, poorer.’ Civilisation faces stark choices.
3 | Intro
Pergamon Museum 1, Berlin 2001
Courtesy Atelier Thomas Struth
Struth shows us one civilisation looking back at another, or rather looking back at its own deep roots. The Pergamon Altar is a monumental construction built during the reign of King Eumenes II, in the first half of the second century BCE, on one of the terraces of the acropolis of the ancient Greek city of Pergamon in Asia Minor. What is seen on display today is a reconstruction. Although clearly a homage to past human achievements, it might also be seen as a form of modern hubris: our civilisation’s own need for monumentality dwarfing the ambition of our ancestors.
4 | Intro
Ergol #1, S1B clean room, Arianespace, Guiana Space Center [CGS], Kourou, French Guiana
from series Space Project
Courtesy the artist
Vincent Fournier has long nurtured a fascination with space travel. He has photographed many of its sites, including the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia, the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, and the Spaceport in French Guiana. However, his interest is not documentary. Although the images are certainly rooted in reality, it is instead the dream aspect that drives him – a collective dream he believes much of humanity shares. The astronauts he has photographed, dwarfed by their high-tech environments, are ready for their leap off the earth but nonetheless tethered to it.