The project Everything is up in the air, thus our vertigo was created by Swiss photographer Yann Mingard between 2015 and 2018. It presents another milestone in the artist‘s career-long interest in creating „photographic diagnostics of contemporaneity“ in connection to large-scale natural, technological and social phenomena and their impact on our current state of mind and of the world at large. Besides being a european premiere, the exhibition also represents the Musée de l’Elysée’s continuing commitment and support of emerging and mid-career Swiss artists in line with shows such as the ones by Nicolas Savary and Matthias Bruggmann.
In this instance Mingard, who lives in Colombier and also has a background in horticulture, has created a body of work that has been inspired by notions and methods borrowed from geology such as sedimentation and layering. It thereby activates sometimes paradoxical and sometimes also dystopian metaphors and contexts that manage to combine phenomena from various temporalities, thereby teleporting the viewer between the instant now and our pre-historic past. To illustrate this, in one sub-chapter the artist delves into both our current mediascape as well as into the history of art, juxtaposing webcam images of skies from different Chinese metropolis with details of skies from William Turner paintings.
These double movements in both time and space were inspired by the study of an atmospheric scientist studying long-term climate change through visual evidence contained in a large set of historical paintings. By combining his own often dark photographic signature still life and landscape images with documents and footage ranging from a wide range of sources such as the US secret services and the Vatican, he manages to assemble a synoptic visual itinerary. This places side by side scenarios about near nuclear-accidents from the cold-war with de-extinction attempts of the wooly mamooth in synthetic biology and the evolution, or better inversion, of a century-old catholic vow used in the Aletsch region of Switzerland to influence the status of its glacier.
The global contexts and geological time frames of climate change and the Anthropocene – or the Great Acceleration –, as a geological period of planetary scale human intervention, are played out here as sometimes absurd and very localized and historically specific subchapters. Ultimately the show asks us to reconsider our own role and positioning as citizens and consumers in a world that increasingly seems often out of bound and in vertigo in the face of our destiny as a planetary network of human and non-human actors.