Press Release

Broad MSU Presents Exhibition Documenting the Human Effects of Climate Change

Event Date: 
13 May 2016
East Lansing, MI
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Gideon Mendel: Drowning World Premieres New Series of Large-Scale Works Created from Personal Effects Gathered from Flooded Landscapes Across the Globe Alongside “Submerged Portrait” Photographs and Video Work

The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University (Broad MSU) presents an exhibition featuring photographs and video by internationally renowned photographer Gideon Mendel, Gideon Mendel: Drowning World. An expansion of a series Mendel has been developing for nearly a decade, the exhibition documents the global magnitude of climate change through the immediate experiences of individuals, including portraits of flood survivors within the remains of their homes or other submerged landscapes central to their livelihood. Working in photography and video, Mendel’s practice invites reflection on our relationship with the natural world, our attachments to physical objects and belongings, and shared experiences across geographical and cultural divides. 

On view May 13 – October 16, 2016, Gideon Mendel: Drowning World includes works created during travel within Thailand, Nigeria, Germany, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, India, Brazil, and the United States. A single-channel video entitled “Water Chapters” adds dimension to the still portraits and chronicles the daily routines of individuals amidst flood waters. The 35-minute work features eight “Chapters” on subjects from each country visited. 

The Broad MSU exhibition will also premiere works in Mendel’s new “Watermarks” series, which chronicles the dramatic modifications floodwaters have on personal photographs. Mendel has created large-scale prints of these small, individual objects, reflecting the magnitude of the collective effects of climate change on individual and communal memory.  

“Mendel’s powerful work uncovers the very personal effects of flood events around the globe, humanizing many of the statistics related to these disasters. His portraits push the boundaries of the form, utilizing subjects and settings more closely associated with documentary photography,” said Caitlín Doherty, curator of the exhibition and Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Broad MSU.  “For this exhibition, Mendel has created new, large-scale prints that further emphasize both the personal and the global ramifications of climate change, confronting us with familiar images dramatically altered by natural forces.  Central to our mission at the Broad MSU is provoking dialogues across international borders, and we’re very proud to present Mendel’s work which creates such human connections within this context.” 

Mendel’s photo and video works will be accompanied by a presentation of the original found family snapshots that inspired the “Watermark” series, scattered across a platform and recalling how the objects were discovered in each home. The enlarged prints of each snapshot, nearly four feet in length, amplify the viewer’s ability to examine the water’s effects on each part of the photograph.

Gideon Mendel: Drowning World joins other exhibitions at the Broad MSU examining works by living artists from the U.S. and around the globe who are confronting a range of political, economic, and social issues. On view through August 7 is The Artist as Activist, which features two of Bangladesh’s foremost contemporary artists, Tayeba Begum Lipi and Mahbubur Rahman. Sam Jury: To Be Here will be on view May 13-November 27, 2016, and chronicles the daily lives of exiled Sahrawi refugees near Tindouf, Algeria in a multi-channel video and sound installation. 

Gideon Mendel: Drowning World is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and curated by Caitlín Doherty, Curator and Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs. Support for this exhibition is provided by the Broad MSU’s general exhibitions fund.


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