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And When You Look Closely

Artist Feature of Anne Gabriel-Jürgens

Too many things have happened that weren’t supposed to happen, and what was supposed to come about has not (...) Again, and as ever, as may be seen above, the most pressing questions are naïve ones (...)

- Wisława Szymborska

The Century’s Decline

This long-term project looks at climate change in coastal areas, its causes and effects, and the role of humans in it.

Since time immemorial, coasts have not only marked the boundary between water and land. The intertwining of two completely different ecosystems has given rise to a special diversity of geological structures, flora and fauna. Coastal areas have also developed their own cultural spaces, characterized by socially contrasting population groups and ways of life, such as fishing, tourism, seafaring, beach promenades and luxury villas.

In the context of recent cultural and economic developments, however, these intermediate spaces are also characterized by overfishing, mass tourism, overexploitation of resources and greed for profit.

It is precisely in such places that the effects of external changes become apparent earlier: plant varieties disappear, animal species die out, organisms and sediments absorb materials that are difficult to decompose, storms become more violent and more frequent, and sea levels rise. By the end of this century, almost half of all beaches will have disappeared.

Nevertheless, such destruction is often not visible at first glance: We continue to romanticize these places according to our ingrained ideals of supposed recreational paradises where we want to chill out on the beach and eat fresh fish.

But if you take a closer look, the consequences of the developments of recent decades are already becoming clear: these dream beaches would hardly exist without artificial filling and the laborious collection of washed-up garbage. The fresh fish is often contaminated with microplastics and heavy metals.

With this project, I want to make people think and feel. Not only about the importance of the subject but also to draw attention to the poetry and fragility of what we are slowly destroying. The gesture I am following is not so much accusatory as interested and questioning.

In the meantime, a pool of images has emerged from the various journeys and subtopics, which I continually vary in new and different ways, depending on the exhibition and publication medium.

Anne Gabriel-Jürgens is part of »Guest Room: Bindi Vora & Justine Ellis«.