22 photographers answer: "Where are we going?"
On Earth Day 2022, a handful of artists find an image that responds to this existential question.
Photography Amber Pinkerton
This article was originally published in September 2020. For Earth Day 2022, we’re re-upping the images and the words of the photographers who shot them.
Over the past six months, photography has offered itself as a vital tool for change. The many different print sales that sprung up in aid of health, austerity and social justice causes proved the strength of the medium lies not simply in its emotive power.
When it comes to photographing our planet, images of melting ice-caps, oil spills in the ocean and rainforest deforestation continually offer a grim outlook on the future. But for every uncomfortable, saddening truth a photograph can reveal – there is always an image that can offer us hope – a feeling vital to achieving a profound change.
Here, 22 photographers look into their archive to find an image that answers the existential question: “Where are we going?” and share their thoughts on where they think that might be. Their responses – some optimistic, others less so – convey a spectrum of galvanising emotions.
“Into a colourful abyss.”
“It’s hard to tell where everything is going these days. The least I could hope for is that we are being more honest with our priorities and conscious of others, near or far. It's important to remember that we are not alone.”
Cécile S. Baudier
“Towards uncertainty? I don't know what to write. Is it possible to even answer that question after this year. Your supposed to write something hopeful right? Words that might comfort. I think that great things happened this year, the BLM for one. But all I know for sure is that I don’t know where we are going.”
“In Greenland, sea ice is disappearing at the rate of about 10 % per decade. The culture of on ice subsistence hunting will be devastated and in the long term future, lost forever.”
“Praying that it's to a new world where the new generation do not ever have to fear.”
“The future belongs to the voices yet to be heard.”
Samuel de Saboia (photographed by Rafael Pavarotti)
“Mentally modified beings, growth and rhythm always up, we are fast, unique, we set ourselves on a mission to overcome all the boundaries, let it burn, break, let’s create bridges and expand, globalise and dominate. Horror movies and symphonies are made in ode of machines, the same body that one day sang to Gods now vocalise to computers, auto-tuned harmonies celebrate the new body, the new normal, as we take three seconds break between each news, ad, meme and viral video or go deep into wars, genocides and executions. The old being is not in fashion but just as mycelium we connect, there’s green between the cables and fire still burns digitally. Your kiss not your data, your organisms instead of algorithms, it will be beautiful where we going. but first I gotta know… Where are we?”
"Let love and unity lead the way."
“I’ve been thinking about this question a lot this year. Everything seems a little scary and dystopian but we must be hopeful. Hope is the source of power to lead us forward and keep us focused. I really hope we can slow down the advance of a technology focused way of life. We must continue to practice love, empathy – caring for the environment and others, and educating children about our precious planet. I wish for freedom for everyone on this earth but it feels like the opposite is happening. People must educate themselves, vote and give a fuck about what’s going on to make sure that where we are going is a better place than we are in now. I always go back to a quote from the Dalai Lama: ‘The past is the past, the future is empty, anything is possible’.”
“I never knew, but the journey must be done together.”
“To find out where I have been.”
“Hop in, we’re going into a new renaissance.”
"Not far, not too close, but somewhere we could almost see ourselves clearly."
“The image I have chosen is the first step, awakening to the near future.”
“Youth is the answer.”
Lola and Pani
"We need to cherish these times and all contribute to a positive changes for the future. The simplest moments of being with friends by a lake in the summer could quickly become a thing of the past.”
“We can’t go anywhere from here. Since we’re staying on Earthwe will have to stop and think of how to do that better.”
"We are going nowhere but within. Connecting the dots of the past in order to move forward."
“Every day anew, Europe commits moral suicide. We are slowly drifting into the sun, and will not be remembered.”
“Hmmmmmm… God only knows!!!!”
All images courtesy of the artist