I love you Mount Everest and I believe you love me back, you certainly spared me in so many ways. We are biologically programed to love and admire you from a far: at altitudes above 22 000 feet human cells die, that is science not heart, the way nature made us.
During the 12 days of my swift ascent I witnessed people stumbling down from your peak, filled with wonder, shock and sadness. You took so many lives that week. I followed the trail we ALL leave behind, the trash, the dead bodies, the oxygen tanks, the human waste running against your flanks: frozen landfills of environmental hazards.
In our era we have decided to ignore the rules of nature; shouldn’t we at least do it without leaving a permanent trace of our passage for future generations?
Music credit: Kai Engle - Take a Look Around you
For millennia artists have recounted to the world the beauty and power of Mount Vesuvius. I wish I could have shown a formidable volcano wrapped in ecological diversity by its incredible Fauna and Flora. The Earth Protectors who guided me through this desolation call it Our Mountain. It is Our Mountain and this is what Our Mountain has become.
“Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light” (John, III, 19) (Leopardi, La Ginestra).
Upon my arrival I walked out from my room unto the naturally manicured beach of the hotel. There were two plastic bottles floating oﬀ in the sunset. For the next five days we collected the new plastic visitors travelling in with the tides, my tourist neighbors oblivious to the tragedy unfolding. I was the only one looking for them and I was the only one to see them. On the last day we briefly put the bottles back into their new kingdom and created this TimeShrine.
It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans.
A volcanic Lake. Hundreds of circles of raw beauty and intense feelings, a ring of violent love and heightened senses. A life and death spiral. They arrived, as Tom promised, a noisy arrow of pink in the rising sun. They landed into a single straight line to avoid bumping into each other. I captured that second of perfect stillness before they started feeding.
A line to protect the circle.
Although this is a World Heritage site classified by UNESCO, recently increased fishing activity has dried up the catchment area of this lake, the water level has receded and the numbers of flamingos has dramatically decreased.
The first time I saw Stromboli I felt I had reached a final destination, the end of the world. A place of peace and contemplation, a giant womb. A perfect secret. There are fumaroles breathing on the beach of Cala Calcara surrounded by circles of stones, they feel like ancient rituals. I placed some painted stones at the feet of my TimeShrine and then made sure to put them back exactly where I found them. I want you to know this place exists.
Our planet will be saved by its beauty.
It felt already dark that morning, a breathable darkness of a pink shade of grey, feeling soft and surreal and muting the sounds. We all wore masks, our muffled exchanges reduced to the essential. By the time I finished my installation it was 4 pm and the city already needed artificial light. I placed a few peonies and breathing masques in the foreground and then decided to rip them all to shreds.
Air pollution is the largest environmental cause of death in the world. Killing over 9 million people a year, fifteen times as many deaths as war and any form of violence combined.
I did not expect to stumble upon such a resilient pod of natural life in my Shanghai roofing expedition. Strong enough to honor the powerful secret of the lotus flower, its roots planted deep in the soil yet floating on water and openly embracing the grey sky. I added the power of a sculpted dragon in the TimeShrine and joined the four elements in One.
We are living in the first urban century. When planned, built, and governed well, cities can be massive agents of positive change. They can help us protect the environment. We need a new vision for urbanization.
They said I was the first foreigner to arrive here. I had travelled very far to find a primary forest and sense its magic. A place that makes our life on earth possible, where trees converse freely and can become old and wise. A place where humans don’t belong but can sometime feel welcomed.
The Amazon rainforest produces about 20% of the oxygen on the planet. We are losing 18.7 million acres of forest annually, equivalent to 27 soccer fields every minute (source: WWF).