Whether you believe it’s plausible or not, French artist Francois Ronsiaux wants us to imagine a world in which the ice caps have melted, drowning our urban spaces–and to internalize the ramifications. This is the goal of his solemn, haunting and humbling series, United Land.
Said Ronsiaux, “Throughout the 21st century, man, with his never-ending drive to control his living environment, finds himself facing the possibility of a temporary existence, as well as the potentiality that life on Earth could end progressively or even abruptly.”
Some will argue that the apocalyptic scenario that Ronsiaux depicts is unlikely, but these critics are missing the point. United Land is no call to action to prevent anything; it reminds us of our ephemeral existence and, ultimately, our deferential relationship to natural elements.
“Symbolizing man’s loss of control of the environment, water becomes a regulating vector replacing man’s habitat following a hypothetical ice thaw,” Ronsiaux said. “Through this immersion the idea of belonging to a political and human territory loses all meaning. It becomes abstract.”
Ronsiaux employs long-shot perspective, filters and layering of water scenes that he captured on a trip to French Polynesia, a location that is living through the toll of rising sea levels. The seeming lack of movement in Ronsiaux’s backdrops evoke a world without people. We see marine life where humans once were, conjuring images of legendary empires long since swallowed by the sea.