CLIMATE CHANGE AND HOW THIS ARTIST SHEDS LIGHT ON ITS DARKNESS
Climate change is rapidly changing our landscape. We caught up with artist Elena Cremona, who is politicising her work to the tune of environmental damage and the stresses we are putting on our planet. Her images are sensitive without pushing the viewer to feel anything but inquisitive, but hold an eerie sense of foreboding when we address the rapid changes to the beauty of nature, brought about by a lack of understanding, of human greed, and of denial. Her work can be seen as a love of nature and a critique on humanity, but it can also be seen as a love of humanity and a driving desire for us to help ourselves.
Her new exhibition Uncertain States questions the geographical politics we all should be talking about right now. She explored parts of nature untouched by money, untouched by greed and untouched by exploitation.
When and how did you begin your journey with photography?
Art, through any form of creation has always been the truest form of expression, in my eyes. I don’t remember there being a specific time when I started photographing, it just always came natural to me to express myself through my chosen craft. I photograph to pour meaning into who I am, to understand better, to grow, to connect and to admire.
Did you know from the outset that you wanted to tell a story about the environment, and climate change, or did it develop into that?
It definitely developed, just as much as I have developed into my own being over time. I was confused about life and myself as a teenager and it reflected that in my photography as well. I used to shoot simply for the sake of making an aesthetically pretty image, whereas now I photograph to connect to myself to the Earth that birthed me.
The more consciously aware I became, and the more love I had for myself, the more I turned to nature for answers. I find great inspiration in nature.
There is great romance in her solitude; in being isolated from society and being deeply immersed within Nature. To me its absolute bliss and a time where I can seek answers.
The more I connected with my craft, the more I started to use it as a tool to connect emotions and memories (and my most precious memories are made in nature). It’s an instant connection to me, to pair nature and photography – an expression of my personal journey in which Mother Earth constantly guides me.
It wasn’t until I went to University and realised that I could use my voice/ my eyes to guide my work as a tool to awaken consciousness and create a sense of awareness and respect for our irreplaceable landscapes – not just for myself, to seek truth within myself, but also to try and inspire others to seek truth in nature.
What would you like people to think/say/do when they see your images?
I think it really depends on the individual who looks at my work and their relationship to themselves. I hope to inspire love, I hope to inspire appreciation for the beauty we inhabit, I hope to inspire self-worth, awareness, appreciation, and gratitude. Most of all, I hope to inspire the realisation that we are part of nature, instead of apart from it.
If you could give a message from your work in one sentence, what would it be?
Love yourself first and you will find great love and respect for the Earth that created you.
Your work can be seen as a love of nature and a critique on humanity, but could it also be seen as a love of humanity and a driving desire for us to help ourselves?
Completely. The problem in this day and age is that we have possibly lost connection with ourselves and everything around us, and we act very selfish / narcissistic towards Nature, and others who show us a source of love. If humanity would find love within themselves, then they would be aware of the love they have for our planet. So if I can inspire anyone to love or to help themselves, we wouldn’t have to talk about environmental problems, because we would realise that we are our environment. It’s this detachment that needs to be mended. If you have love for yourself, if you have love for others, you have love for the planet and all of this wouldn’t be a problem. So yes, you can see my photography as both a love of nature, but also a love for humanity in order for them to help themselves.
Why do you think humanity has drifted so far from its roots in harmony with nature?
Somehow we have defined a distinction between the Earth and ourselves.
Humanity has shifted the definition of what it means to be a visitor on Mother Earth’s home. We are now driven by power, money and exploitation, where greed seems to be put above the wellbeing of our planet. It’s just about being able to reconnect with our primary roots, rather than continuing to live this separate life to Nature.
What steps do you think could be taken at this point for us to try and reverse some of the damage we inflict and help to reverse climate change?
I think it’s about finding this connection to Nature again. Think about how you treat yourself and your own body, and then think about how you treat others and Nature? The answer is so simple, yet we have such difficulty to comprehend that we are one and the same. Treat Nature how you treat yourself by loving yourself. I think there’s always time to mend wounds, may they be environmental, physical, emotional etc. You just have to give back to the planet, by understanding you are the planet.
Are these thought processes also how the exhibition came about or where did the idea develop, and what would you like people to take from it?
The exhibition came about just by taking time away from society.
I explored parts of Nature untouched by money, untouched by greed and untouched by exploitation. I just went back to the source to fuel energy and re-connect, not only to myself, but to our Mother (Earth).
I’d like for people to stop and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.
It is important to me to use my photographic work to not only challenge the mind set of society, but to evoke an emotional and tactile connection between Nature and ourselves. Society is ignorance but Nature is bliss.
My exhibition ‘Uncertain States’ is a reminder of our fragility on Earth, homage to my Mother (Earth) and hopefully an appreciation to the core elements that make up the planet we inhabit.
Where was the most emotionally affecting place you photographed and why?
I travelled around Iceland in 2015 and ended up photographing a glacier lagoon there. After having photographed it, I had to stop and cry, for it was the most serene, the most turbulent, the most sublime beauty I had ever experienced. Not only was it ever changing through melting and creating new icebergs, it also reminded me of how fragile our role on Earth is.
Where is the place you’d most like to go next and why?
I would love to go see the Bisti Badlands in Mexico, Cappadocia in Turkey, the Salt Lakes in Bolivia, only to mention a few. Why? Because I love being able to see places untouched by humans, places I can be in solitude with Nature and admire her formations.