By Franck Michel
The landscape enwraps,
penetrates, it is not before one as
an object. . . . It is an atmosphere, a
sensory halo, and not simply a
– DAVID LE BRETON
The history of landscape photography offers an incomparable source of information on the evolution of territories and the human influence over them. Photographers walk in the footsteps of these transformations. From nineteenth-century explorations of wild lands to engaged documentation of Anthropocene environmental upheavals, they provide us with valuable and indispensable evidence. Advocating a phenomenological approach to the world, Andreas Rutkauskas contributes to this vast photographic encyclopedia of landscapes in transformation. For the past fifteen years, his projects have dwelt on the consequences of the exploitation of natural resources and on the strategies and technologies deployed by human beings to control their environment. Although he has a ﬁrm environmentalist orientation, his approach never protests or provokes, and it is not at all sensationalist. He stands astride the line between engaged practice and the walking photographer’s exploration of landscape experience. The strength of his work resides in this subtle balance.
Following his photographic survey of the porosity of the Canada–United States border,1 since 2017 he has been interested in the reactions and regeneration of forest ecosystems following forest ﬁres in the Canadian West. The resulting project, After the Fire, was presented at the Grantham Foundation in Quebec.2 It is inscribed within a broad-reaching interdisciplinary scientific research study, Living with Wildfire, headed by the University of British Columbia,3 the objective which is to expand knowledge about the role and consequences of forest ﬁres and to raise public awareness of their importance in the succession of ecosystems…
Translated by Käthe Roth.
2 The result of a 2020 residency at the Grantham Foundation and produced under the aegis of guest curator Geneviève Chevalier, the exhibition Refuge: après l’incendie/After the Fire was presented from September 26 to November 28, 2021. It brought together a group of a dozen printed photographs, an immersive work, a video piece, and an audio excerpt of a meeting with the naturalist Michel Durand-Nolette.
3 For more information on Living with Wildfire, see https://news.ok.ubc.ca/2021/09/10/living-with-wildfire/.
[ Complete issue, in print and digital version, available here: Ciel variable 119 – AGAINST NATURE ]
[ Complete article and more images, in digital version, available here: Andreas Rutkauskas, Refuge: After the Fire — Franck Michel, The Resilience of Landscapes ]