Monday, May 10, 2021

‘After Us, the Flood’ captures footage of a sinking world

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In Kadir from Lohuizen’s next photo book, After Us, the Flood: The Human Consequences of Rising Sea Levels, the climate crisis is fundamentally a water crisis. With the the melting of the polar caps in Greenland as the catalyst for rising sea levels, the consequences of their destruction, coupled with the complacency of governments, leave people in unlivable circumstances.

People in countries like Panama, Bangladesh, and Kiribati see the sea rise back up to their homes during high tides. The Netherlands and the United States, although well protected in certain areas, continue to experience terrible storm surge near coastal towns, and large parts of Jakarta in Indonesia are expected to be submerged by 2050. “We’re talking about the climate crisis, it seems like we still think it wouldn’t be as bad as expected,” says Lohuizen. “It’s strange that we don’t take action, even though we know it.”

Lohuizen’s goal is to go beyond publishing a traditional photo book in the hope of reaching a wider audience. Sections on the effects of rising sea levels on six regions are written by a mix of local politicians, scientists, activists and journalists familiar with their country’s impending fate. While the accompanying photographs show the frightening consequences of human decisions, they also illustrate what Henk Ovink, the Netherlands’ special envoy for international water affairs, calls in the introduction to the book “the line. fine between the power of nature and human hope ”.

Lohuizen’s documentation of human experiences and the struggle between man and nature is a dominant motif. In a photograph taken at Tebike Nikoora in Kiribati, a woman stands outside, watching the seawater pass by dozens of sandbags. In an image from Jakarta, people walk in knee-deep flood waters after canals fail due to waste buildup.

The dramatic and evocative imagery of dangerous ocean currents and flooding was obtained through Lohuizen’s reliance on the tide table, data used to predict high and low tides. Lohuizen said filming at high tide would be the best way for viewers to imagine the future severity of rising waters in coastal towns. “If you can show what is already happening at high tide, you don’t have to have a very wild fantasy to realize what would happen if the sea level rises one, two or three meters higher. He said.

Lohuizen also relied on drones, and even a kite equipped with a camera in the early stages of the project, to show the fragility of coastal towns. “There was a very important element to having these antennas – and in particular for the Netherlands – because then you see, in some of the images, how close we are to the sea,” he says.

Lohuizen, originally from Utrecht, started this project in 2011 while working on a project on migration in the Americas. He also photographed projects on the world’s rivers and the diamond industry.

While aerial shots show the relationship between rising waters and coastal towns, others show attempts by residents to leave these places. In Bangladesh, boats fill Sadarghat, the main river port in the capital of Dhaka, carrying people hoping to relocate from the delta. Similar situations are illustrated in Guna Yala, an indigenous province of Panama, where Lohuizen captures a woman at the construction site of his new home. The idea of ​​resettling communities, which Lohuizen documents in almost half of the countries he photographed, seems normalized but controversial. “If people have to move, where are they going?” he asks. “I think in the United States you have enough space, but in countries like Bangladesh, as well as the Netherlands or Indonesia, we don’t have the space to move people.”

Children play on the beach in Temwaiku, a vulnerable village in southern Tarawa in the Republic of Kiribati. Sandbags were placed in an attempt to hold back the ocean.

Photography: Kadir van Lohuizen / NOOR

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