Rising Sea Levels, Brighton, UK (2008-2009)
With this early project I inaugurated my long-term dedication to the effects of climate change. I took the West Pier in Brighton (UK) as an imaginary landscape affected by rising sea levels and averse weather events.
How do you photograph a phenomenon as slow as rising sea levels? How do you seize a feature that is already reshaping the coastline around the world?
Piers fascinated me. They represent a bond between the sea and the land. They also are at the forefront of averse weather events.
The West Pier has also been set on fire at least two times and was severely hit by winter storms. The degradation of the structure dating from the Victorian times added a social component to an essentially landscape photography project.
I photographed the Pier at low tide and at night inspired by the often apocalyptic dark skies of fiction films envisioning our future in 20, 30, 100 years from now. I was using a flash reminiscent of news photography in order to keep the dark background and in an attempt to shed a harsh light on the decaying structure which people wanted to see removed. It also represents an archive because the West Pier has mostly been dismantled and removed by now.
The project came to fruition in the course of five-day workshop under the patronage of Magnum Photos at the University of Brighton where photographer Mark Power teaches. That was in October 2008.
Accidentally, Carl De Keyzer was one of the three tutors on the workshop and he was working on a similar project too, now published under the title Moments before the Flood.
I finished the project while interning Magnum Photos in London in 2009.