About State of Nature

To which extent natural disaster protection became part of the European landscape shows the body of work “State of Nature”. Claudius Schulze travelled about 50 000 km across Europe, photographing with a large format view camera down from an aerial work platform seemingly picturesque landscapes.

But each of those idyllic sceneries contains imperfections: alpine panoramas are crossed by snow sheds, the North Sea coast is furrowed by breakwaters. In each of the photographs protective structures rise into the landscape. In the age of the Anthropocene, climate change and extreme weather constantly increase the threads of gales, floods, and avalanches; it’s civil protection agencies maintaining ordinary life. These pictures are not about on defining the boundary between “artificial” and “natural”. On the contrary, the defences are the prerequisite to these landscapes: the sunshine sparkles on the surface of the mountain lakes only because it was artificially dammed, the dunes only rise because they are protected against storm surges. Civilization is well sheltered against the dangers of nature and those that come from unrestrained pollution and carbon emissions.

At the moment, we still profit from driving climate change through our consumption. At the moment the catastrophes we have equipped ourselves for and which are the consequences of our actions are largely felt elsewhere and not with us, not in the “First World.” At the moment we are still living carefree – in the belief of the picturesque beauty of nature surrounding us, while elsewhere, catastrophic nature strikes harder than it ever did.