Mers et Rivières – Seas and Rivers
An exhibition including The Danube River Project, Hong Kong Waters, and Kaunas upon the Rivers, on view at the Pavillon Populaire in Montpellier, France, until January 16, 2022.
Curated by Gilles Mora and accompanied by a 144-page catalog published by Editions Hazan, Paris, with essays by Gilles Mora and Hubertus von Amelunxen.
“A central figure of European photographic avant-garde, Andreas Müller-Pohle, who was born in Germany in 1951, is also the editor-in-chief of European Photography, the prestigious magazine, which he founded in 1980.
His artistic work, which is primarily very experimental and strongly theoretical, has constantly focused on the role and the conditions of creation and reception of photographic perception. In the mid-1990s, he started practicing and exploring digital photography. His series on water and its vital ecological role, on which he started working in 2005, offer a lyrical as well as a critical vision of this major environmental issue.
Andreas Müller-Pohle developed an unusual method: he photographed seas and rivers “from the inside”, immersing himself underwater or photographing at surface level. He presents us with banks, shores and environments, in their natural state or with the changes that our industrial societies make them undergo, seen through liquid colours in the midst of which the photographer merges, vanishes even.
This subjective point of view provides a poetic and unique environmental approach, in contrast to purely documentary, factual and objective photographers, in particular those of the “Düsseldorf School of Photography”. This shooting protocol, with its experimental undertones in line with Andreas Müller-Pohle’s spirit, allows reverie around the aquatic elements, while retaining a deeply critical outlook in the face of the ecological deterioration of nature subjected to the toxic rule of industrialization and consumption. The exhibition presents the three projects Andreas Müller-Pohle produced that illustrate this photographic device, and the resulting views: The Danube River Project (2005), Hong Kong Waters (2009 – 2010) and Kaunas upon the Rivers (2017).
Drawing attention to the strong poetic potential of the images shown here is a way of noting that, through this process, Andreas Müller-Pohle carefully deconstructs the documentary tool that seems to justify the origin of his project. Müller-Pohle’s photographs are always infused with the great themes of material imagination, as philosopher Gaston Bachelard so clearly demonstrated. They surprise us with their unexpected visual freshness, a dreamy, almost rebellious lyricism, that we thought had disappeared from recent documentary photographic practices.”
Artistic director of the Pavillon Populaire
Curator of the exhibition