“After the first glass of absinthe you see things as you wish they were. After the second you see them as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.” – Oscar Wilde
An Opening Reception was held May 5th, 2017 – 6 to 9 p.m. on First Friday at the ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art, 148 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo.
Exhibit closed May 26th. View by appointment only +1.716.931.5833
The exhibit first premiered in 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. More information follows the images.
Some of the photographs shown in Buffalo were damaged
Are Humans Disappearing?
Photographs by Orin Langelle
The theme of the exhibit is climate change and the possibility of human extinction. These are not the usual photographs one associates with climate change: ice caps and glaciers melting or polar bears adrift. The photographs in Are Humans Disappearing? are images designed to show that time and space are fleeting and we are on this planet for only a brief time, so we should use that time meaningfully.
The exhibit shows people passing through time, demonstrating that existence and time do not stand still and that mass extinction is a sad possibility due to the climate crisis if action is not taken. Instead of looking at razor sharp recognizable photojournalism, Are Humans Disappearing? engages the viewer to observe a progression of images moving in stages from recognizable human forms to figures almost completely unrecognizable.
This exhibit is a visual warning and wake-up call. Although I have a background in photojournalism, this breaks away from my usual documentary work. The inward disturbance I feel moved me to look existentially through a photographic lens. I felt the need to take this leap with my visual expression in this exhibit in order to confront the viewer with a thought-provoking and perhaps disturbing image of the ephemeral nature of life in order to encourage them to consider what they can do to prevent climate catastrophe and the potential extinction of humans. The images in the photographs in Are Humans Disappearing? are directed at making the viewer look inward to provide a sense of time and space that are fleeting, not only to the viewer, but to humankind as well. In so doing, the exhibit intends to provoke people to take action to avoid the potential cataclysmic consequences of climate change. Not only humans can disappear—so can all species. In the age of Trump, and the global tip to the right, we are in an unprecedented crisis and the concept of humanity and life on Earth is rapidly disappearing.
Origin of the photographs:
These photographs were taken on two successive evenings, 10 and 11 October 2008 in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, Spain and inspired by a certain amount of absinthe. I stood on my cheap hotel’s balcony ledge photographing the people who passed by on the avenue below. During the day I attended the annual meeting of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) held in that city. The IUCN meetings were quite disturbing to me, as the overwhelming majority of strategies to protect nature put forth to the 8,000 in attendance emphasized market-based mechanisms.
The market was embraced at the IUCN meeting at the same time the world was beginning to feel the effects of a global financial meltdown.
The premise of letting the market solve the environmental crisis is deeply troubling since it is the market that has driven us into the myriad ecological and social crises we face today.
This emphasis on business to solve the environmental crisis is reflected across numerous fora. In May 2008, I attended the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD) in Bonn, Germany where the CBD welcomed business with open arms. In December of 2008 I participated in the UN Climate Convention Poznan, Poland and watched as the same market-based mechanisms were pushed forth, complete with false solutions to climate change. The same was true when the UN Climate Convention met in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009. Indigenous Peoples’ voices and those affected by climate change were not heard in Copenhagen, Poznan, Bonn or Barcelona. Nor in the subsequent passing years o UN climate conferences from 2010 in Cancun, Mexico to the last climate summit in Marrakech, Morocco.
A very special thanks to Global Justice Ecology Project, Global Forest Coalition and the Puffin Foundation for making this exhibition possible
PS: People have asked me why I don’t reprint and matte the photos that are damaged or missing in this exhibit? My reply is, that if humans disappear, who will be around to fix things. And there would be no one around to care anyway?
Orin Langelle 5 May 2017
Orin Langelle prepares a glass of Absinthe at Bar Marsella in Barcelona Spain over May Day weekend 2017
Photo & text: Anne Petermann
Orin Langelle, photographer of this exhibit shot in Barcelona, Spain in 2008, found himself back in Barcelona over May Day weekend this year.
In honor of the opening of this photo exhibit which was inspired in part by Absinthe, Orin and I made our way to Barcelona’s famous Bar Marsella to be in the historic company of great and creative individuals as we enjoyed a taste of the infamous spirit.
“Bar Marsella opened in 1820 in the El Raval neighborhood. It is said to be the first bar in Barcelona and was frequented by Dalí, Picasso, Gaudí, Hemingway, and many other famous artists. It’s also one of the only bars in Barcelona that serves absinthe.
“Thick cobwebs cover old liquor bottles, the chandeliers, the corners of the walls. The floor is tattered and worn. The ceiling paint is peeling away. The grime visible on the mirrors. And that’s the main reason it’s so charming. Despite Bar Marsella being packed with tattooed hipsters and the occasional tourist, you’re definitely transported back to the 19th century, right down to the prostitutes and hoodlums that are hanging out outside.”
“After the first glass of absinthe you see things as you wish they were. After the second you see them as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.” — Oscar Wilde