Joe Zammit-Lucia, Saving Our Diverse World, from PRIVATE 37 – an Ecological Question
On December 27th, 2006 the United States officially proposed the Polar Bear be declared a threatened species. Its icy habitat is literally melting away due to global warming. Species depletion due to human activity is not new. In the 19th century, species like the Black and White Colobus monkey were nearly wiped out when over 2 million were skinned for the fur trade. Today, destruction of habitat through logging, conversion of forests to agricultural lands, continued development, desertification and so forth pose threats to many species. Some magnificent animals like the rhinoceros may be extinct in 50 years. My portfolio of images entitled Fauves takes a different approach to the photography of endangered species. By moving away from the usual nature photography of animals in their habitat to a modern ‘studio portrait’ style of representation, my aim is to elevate the way we view these animals to a near human level. If we can learn to respect these animals as rightful co-inhabitants of our environment, there is a greater chance that we may slow down or even reverse the environmental damage that is driving them to extinction.
Much environmental photography focuses on the shocking, the negative, the destructive. But the shocking is commonplace and viewers today are becoming inured to the daily bombardment by negative imagery. My aim is to focus on the positive; to elevate the subject to a higher level while highlighting areas of progress in the task of environmental preservation. I believe that this may encourage many to join in the efforts to create a sustainable environment shared with a diverse variety of animal and plant species. I take inspiration from the words of Roland Barthes: “Ultimately, Photography is subversive not when it frightens, repels, or even stigmatizes, but when it is pensive, when it thinks”.