Interview Leica Blog | Nomi Baumgartl

14.09.2011, Andreas Dippel

The Memory of the Earth

For many years, the renowned photographer Nomi Baumgartl has been committed to promote a better understanding of nature, a better coexistence of mankind and the planet, and the protection of the environment. As these topics are quite explosive many people are aware of them, and yet they need to be recalled over and over again. Our planet changes too fast, only too soon we will perceive the consequences of our doings far more intensely thannowadays.

Nomi Baumgartl has initiated a spectacular new project that presents just these consequences.

Nomi, now you are planning a unique installation in the famous Bogota Hotel in Berlin – what may the visitors expect?

The guests of the Bogota hotel as well as the visitors of the renowned „PHOTOPLATZ“ (photo place) in the house will have the opportunity to marvel at a 18-m-high iceberg that will be installed – with the help of the data collectedby the Leica S2 – in the atrium which can be viewed from all floors of the hotel.

This installation consists of a rather lively concept: Water is falling down over the photograph-iceberg, accompanied by an original soundtrack recording the melting water which sounds similar to the noise produced by waterfalls. In the background, you will hear the voice of Uncle Angaangaq, an Eskimo-Kalaallit who in the meantime has risen to worldwide fame, an be listening to his message:

„Melting ice in the heart of Man“ –

Which personal concerns do you wish to convey with the Installation?

The installation shall be an iconic symbol that is meant to also address the beholders’ consciousness on an emotional level.

Does your installation have a symbolic meaning beyond the topic of melting ice?

In the ice, knowledge and wisdom is stored: Knowledge is the scientific perspective, wisdom the spiritual perspective of the Inuit. The ice is, so to say, the Earth’s memory. There is real knowledge stored in the ice, scientists can sift information out of it, e.g. data on the weather of 10.000 years ago. And that knowledge, which is melting in the sense of the word, will from a scientific perspective at some time end in our coffee pots. Everything is included in one cycle.

What effects does climate change and its strains have one the people living in a country like Greenland?

This question is as complex as the global connections. Due to the influence of Man, the climate has changed for the last decades. As an effect of global warming, 40 % of the arctic ice are already lost. In the polar regions the balance of nature is visibly disturbed. 55.000 people live in Greenland, the only region on Earth that looks 99% the same as it did 1.000 years ago thanks to the great ice fields. But now, the ice is melting away 20 cm per day during the summer months, and so these gigantic and unique artworks formedby nature are a world that is rapidly disappearing. My project “Arctic Message” therefore bears the subtitle: “Vanishing world breaking in pieces of time”. The results and consequences of this accelerating process are irresistible. As far as Greenland is concerned especially, I can only once again quote my colleague Sven Nieder, who is doing a lot of work in Greenland and who is akeen expert of the country and its culture. He says: “Everything that is happening somewhere in the world ends up – caused by the Jet stream – in the polar regions, in Greenland, amongst others”.

Coming to your project “Arctic Message” you initiated – what is the message you want to convey?

We are all part of the same whole. And if we do not separate from that universe we can develop a collective consciousness for that which must be preserved. The poles reflect the balance of the Earth, and in this lies the essential message in which I am quoting Andreas Feininger over and over again: “We are all an integral part of nature, a part of the universe”. The point is the respect in dealing with nature. The astronaut Edgar Mitchell put it in a nutshell:

“From outer space on can see how fragile our home planet is. The perspective we take may be a perspective for the future.”

How is the installation in the Bogota Hotel funded?

Just now, in the internet forum the countdown is running for the crowd funding of the Arctic Message-1:1 photograph installation in the Bogota hotel. With Kai Oppel and his Scrivo PR agency a spectacular press campaign for the MySherpas project had been launched. 38 ice blocks were sent to newspapers, radio and television stations – exactly the amount of water had been frozen that is during the summer months melting away daily in the Arctic. And, of course, I hope to win many supporters of the project!

Are you planning further projects to call attention to the climate change by the means of artistic photography?

I would like to continue the Arctic Message in the winter during the polar light with its spectacular heaven phenomenon under the project title: ‘Stella Polaris’. Stella Polaris‘ is the brightest of all the polar stars and it signifies the symbol of orientation in our rapid climate change. During the infinite night in the polar region, the universe of the earth is very close. Heaven and earth touch each other; the stars are also so close that they, too, seem to touch. In the tradition of the old tribes, the polar lights embody the dancing ancestors. With my colleague, Sven Nieder we will photograph collectively the magic scenario of the Eskimos and Greenlanders with strong LED lights illuminated. Through long-term exposures we create in a sense ‘light paintings’ in respect to‚ „Mother Earth“…the frozen memory of the earth, the wisdom for the future.

Uncle Angaangaq begins the project with a ceremony of spirituality in order to return to his people and bring back the knowledge and wisdom to share with the world. Each light-artist puts emotions and desires in to the science of photography and then so we develop an photoart and film documentation of the polar region which will reach everyone around the world.

Statement from Seal – „Fast changes arriving“

„Nomi has my full support in furthering her powerful ‚Artic Message‘ – Stella Polaris photographic art project. She has touched my heart through her global understanding of climate change to raise people consciousness.“