Spotlight

Unpredictable Waters: The shifting landscape of Olaf Otto Becker’s Ilulissat series

09th February 2022
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Words Eleanor Lerman

09th February 2022

Read Time: 1 minute

Olaf Otto Becker travelled to the Ilulissat Icefjord in western Greenland in 2003, navigating thick fog and unpredictable waters alone in a small boat. Describing what he witnessed as an incredible performance, Becker recalls the multicoloured midnight sun, the cannon-like shots of icebergs breaking apart, and the bright cries of the surrounding seagulls. Following on from his first visit, the photographer returned to Ilulissat every summer for the next fourteen years, documenting the towering icebergs and dark waters of the surrounding seascape.

Ilulissat 11, 07/2016, 2016, olaf otto becker

    After revisiting a glacier in Iceland and noticing that its tongue had retreated significantly since his last visit, Becker began noticing the undeniable signs of climate change. Toeing the line between beauty and fear, the Ilulissat series becomes a symbol of change within our habitat, a change which we have brought about through our actions. Becker is quoted saying “for me, icebergs are wonderful temporal sculptures created of their own accord, yet at the same time they are also natural monuments, reminders of the continuing process of climate change, which we humans are now influencing to a great extent for the first time in the history of our planet.”

    Huge floating beasts, the icebergs tower amongst cloudy skies and glass-like water, their forms reflected perfectly beneath them. In their peaceful stoicness, there is an equal sense of transience. Ultimately, Becker’s series portrays the Earth’s beauty, and urges us to take into account the nature that surrounds us.

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