The tourism industry in the Alps has adopted a very hands-on measure to try and counter the receding of the glaciers on a vast scale. The rate at which these glaciers are melting is to be slowed down by covering the exposed ice surfaces during the summer months with a geotextile fleece developed specially for that purpose, thereby preserving the glaciers as an economic area. In his Monuments (2018) series the Swiss artist and photographer experimented with used glacier fleece from the Gurschenfirn in the Andermatt-Gemsstock area and used it as a photographic image medium. Mandry then printed the fleece, which still bore the distinct traces of its previous use on the ice surface, with photographs of glacier regions from the early 20th century. They feature glacial landscapes at a time when the glaciers themselves were still intact. Using lithographic techniques, the artist applies these historical images to the textile that is currently being used to protect the ice from melting. As a process, it produces a certain reduction, with the images appearing almost abstract yet imbued with subtle poetry. While the historical photographs reflect the story of how the glacier region opened up to tourism, Monuments preserves the memory of a landscape that is now disappearing due to the climate crisis, one that will cease to exist in the foreseeable future.
Douglas Mandry, born 1989, lives in Zurich, Switzerland.
"Art is more important than ever before for me, especially in times of crisis. And it is the right time to reinvent ourselves, develop our imagination, open our minds to new possibilities, and preserve the world we live in."
Douglas Mandry, artist