If you want to see the benign and hostile extremes of human use of natural resources, then the Amazon is a good place to go. Alternatively, take a look at Andrea Altemüller’s photographs from her own trip to the rainforest. They form the basis of the Metamorphosis exhibition at Vienna’s Weltmuseum.
- Contrasts the harmonious work of a ceramic artist in the Amazon with the destruction arising from industrial deforestation
- Runs Dec 5, 2019 – May 19, 2020
- Can view with a standard Weltmuseum entrance ticket
- See also: Weltmuseum visitor and ticket tips
Metamorphosis. Brazil 1998
(Exhibition view © KHM-Museumsverband)
The one-room Metamorphosis exhibition documents Andrea Altemüller’s 1998 journey into the Brazilian rainforest by presenting a remarkable contrast.
One side of the gallery has photos of a pristine ecosystem and the artist, Izer Campos, who uses material from the tidal river bed to create ceramic works. There is a harmony to the Earth from my River collection, a sense of treading carefully through nature…using resources without destroying the essence of the environment.
This part of the exhibition also includes five of Campos’s works, all of which reflect that intimate connection to nature; the smooth pots like gourds, the other items almost fossil-like.
On the other side of the gallery, Altemüller documents the Deforestation of the Rainforest in a series of stark photos of dead trees, charcoal facilities, and semi-apocalyptic scenes.
The landscapes and workers seem to echo images of the industrial revolution (before labour protection was a thing). The use of natural resources is anything but harmonious, leaving a trail of destruction where the workers themselves belong to the victims of economic exploitation.
This juxtaposition has a particular resonance given recent events in Brazil.
Two photos in particular manage to expose the duality of human interaction with the forest to perfection:
- Izer Campos bathing in the river, an act of extraordinary naturalness and peace.
- The frontline of forest destruction, where the stump of a giant tree seems to lean away from a charcoal furnace and other buildings half hidden in a haze of smoke. It reminded me a little of photos of what remained of a wood after WWI shelling.
(Incidentally, you can purchase Altemüller’s photos from the source.)
Dates and tickets
The Metamorphosis exhibition runs from December 5th, 2019 to May 19th, 2020. No special ticket is required, just an entrance ticket for the Weltmuseum itself.
The museum opens every day but Wednesday. Opening hours are 10am to 6pm (9pm on the last Friday of each month).
How to get to the exhibition
See the main Weltmuseum article for travel tips.
Address: Heldenplatz, 1010 Vienna