It is always exciting to look at the first frames of a new project. Is it any good? Do the images live up to the expectations? As the winter sun of Brussels illilluminated the first role of 120 Ilford Delta 400 film from Ethiopia, I knew I am on the right track. It’s all there: the quiet, humble aesthetic of slow portraits, the aura of people that are firmly self-assured of their duty.
My current project, Apocalypse, is a long and multi-faceted documentary project. I look at foreshadow of a mega-earthquake that scientist expect to hit Istanbul in the near future. I investigate architecture designed to withstand the future – the Onkalo-Project in Finland (designed to last 100’000 years), the Norwegian Svalbard Global Seed Vault, etc. And I portrait traditional leader figures such as village elders, tribal leaders, sheikhs, and the like, whose authority is of a quality that is – to some extend – immune to changes in the sophisticated political organization of modern states. I shot sheikhs in Yemen (as part of my Socotra project), and now priests in Ethiopia – a country that adopted Christianity almost two millennia ago. (In two days, I will fly to South-East Asia (for security reasons I can’t disclose the country yet) and -among others- will continue the project there.)
As a photographer, I have always strived to find the world that lies below the surfaces of ordinary life. My new project is an examination of Apocalypse, mankind’s fear of chaos and uncertainty, and the struggles we all fight to keep control.
Today, we are the edge of a new beginning, that is – apocalypse in the literal sense of the meaning of the word. Scrupulous exploitation of the earth’s resources, a dramatic overpopulation far beyond sustainability, and the dooming of a climate change that will alter the face of earth drastically, coincidence in what is probably the worst systematic economic crisis in our civilization’s history. Pessimism about the future is appropriate and omnipresent.
Examining what will be lost and what can remain is my story. I intend to reach past the comfort zone, asking questions about consequences, destiny, and the possibilities of a new beginning.
It’s a exciting project – and a challenging one.