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Michel Comte, Light

light (2017), Swiss Alps © Michel Comte

Since the 1970s, Michel Comte has earned a reputation as a fashion photographer, contributing to Vogue and Vanity Fair, from advertising campaigns for prestigious brands to celebrity portraits. Born in 1954 in Zurich, Michel Comte has also collaborated with the Red Cross and runs his own humanitarian foundation. He has always been keenly aware of the issue of natural resource management, in particular water.

In 1986, Michel Comte spent a few months in Tibet. One day, he met a group of Chinese in a monastery. “We struck a conversation,” the photographer said in a phone conversation from Zurich, where he moved back after a long stay in the United States. “They were scientists. They told me that China wasn’t interested in Tibet for political or religious reasons, but because the region was the country’s major source of water. And that this source would one day, in 20 or 25 years, be threatened by a climatic phenomenon: the melting of glaciers.”

From that moment on, in parallel to his work in fashion and advertising, Michel Comte has been documenting the state of the world’s ice giants. From the Alps, the Himalayas, to British Columbia, the Andes, and Spitsbergen. Over thirty years of observation, he has been able to record their retreat, at first slow, then more rapid, now outright alarming.

The exhibition includes video mapping, sculpture, sound, and installations, such as the miniature mountains of ice that melt on display. The exhibition aims solely at raising awareness, through art, about the ever more worrisome threat. The title, Light, evokes the prime resource of photography. “And because I remain an optimist,” concludes Michel Comte.


MAXXI, Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo

Via Guido Reni 4A 00196 Rome, Italy

14 November - 10 December

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