Gideon Mendel | Drowning World


Gonaives, Haiti September 2008

Gonaives, Haiti September 2008

Suparat Tadee chumcon ruamjai district bangkok thailand Nov 2011

Suparat Tadee Chumcon Ruamjai, Bangkok Nov 2011


Gideon Mendel: Drowning World
Tiwani Contemporary: 7 June – 27 July 2013


This exhibition consists of a selection of images from a long-term project developed by Gideon Mendel documenting floods in various parts of the globe including England, India, Haiti, Australia, Thailand and Nigeria.

Somerset House presented this exhibition as a contribution to the World Stages London 2102 Festival and as a prelude to their collaborative cross continental theatre piece, Climate Refugees, The Opera that will be performed in 2013.


Adlene Pierre Savanne Desole, Gonaives Haiti Sept 2008 (water damaged film)

Adlene Pierre Savanne Desole, Gonaives Haiti Sept 2008 (water damaged film)

‘Drowning World’ is a poignant depiction of climate change through portraits of flood survivors taken in deep floodwaters, within the remains of their homes, or in submerged landscapes, in the stillness of once lively environments.
Keeping their composure, the subjects pause in front of Mendel’s camera, casting an unsettling, yet engaging gaze. These images, taken across the world demonstrate a shared experience that erases geographical and cultural divides. They invite the viewer to reflect on our impact on nature, as well as our attachment to our homes and personal belongings.

Beyond the documentary aspect of this project, Gideon Mendel subtly treads on the aesthetics of portraiture, yet pushes the boundaries by setting its décor in unlikely environments. Each portrait isolates individuals, couples or small groups that would otherwise be represented by statistics. The portraits also reveal personality and status through clothes, style and even elegance.
As well as representing destruction, water also contributes to the creative process. Damaged films produce soft tones and mysterious haze, while architecture and landscape are reflected in the sparkling natural mirror.

Mendel also draws our attention to abandoned or lost photographs, to which he lends a second lease of life as still lives, found images or objects containing anonymous memories. Displayed in a vitrine are photographs found in Australia and exhibited for the first time. Washed out pigments create new painterly patterns, turning these snapshots into strange watercolours, abstract compositions or “solarized” images.

The selection assembled for this exhibition highlights the confusion of senses between the sight of landscapes of desolation and the attractiveness of colours and compositions. It seeks to examine the tension between drama and picturesque, and the fine line between documentary and artistic imagery.

– Christine Eyene, Curator

christa and salomon raymond fils decade village haiti sept 2008

Christa & Salomon Raymond, Fils Decade village, Haiti, September 2008

Hakam Zadi Manghai Khan Brohi village, Sindh Pakistan sept 2010

Hakam Zadi Manghai Khan Brohi village, Sindh, Pakistan Sept 2010

Margaret clegg toll bar village Doncaster uk june 2007

Margaret Clegg, village near Doncaster, UK, June 2007

Anchalee Koyamaholds Taweewattana district Bangkok Nov 2011

Anchalee Koyamaholds Taweewattana, Bangkok, Nov 2011

Suparat Tadee chumcon ruamjai district bangkok thailand Nove 2011

Suparat Tadee Chumcon Ruamjai, Bangkok Thailand Nov 2011

asif khairpur nathan shah Sindh Pakistan Sept 2010

Asif Khairpur Shah, Sindh, Pakistan Sept 2010


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