Carl De Keyzer Moments Before the Flood
It seems to be an accepted fact that the sea level will rise dramatically before the end of the century as a result of climate change, partly through the fault of us humans. Prognoses vary from a few decimetres to a few metres. Moments Before the Flood is a visual, photographic investigation into how Europe is coping with this difficult-to-gauge threat.
The coasts of Europe are the areas in which the repercussions of this threat will be felt. This is the zone in which the mainland no longer feels as ‘main’ as it once did, where the Old World is foundering and where the future is a threat to the past. The coast is the question mark of the mainland. And that’s what makes it such a fascinating subject for photographic research that tries to depict uncertainty. This project doesn’t just focus on a possible future hazard; it also takes in the various forms of coastal protection in Europe throughout history and how today Fortress Europe copes with other swells and floods.
The 65,000 kilometre-long coast of Europe is dotted with useless coastal defences from bygone days. Many represent enormous investments in materials and man-hours, but most never served any purpose, either because the ‘enemy’ didn’t show up, or, when the enemy did appear, the construction proved hopelessly outdated.
Is Europe prepared for the possible dramatic rise of the sea level and to what extent will its efforts eventually prove futile? Eventually the threat was not so serious, or was it perhaps because we were so well prepared for it? To a great extent, this research programme is all about this latent tension, the incapacity to define just how real a threat actually is and how efficient our defences are against it.
About the author
1958, Kortrijk, Belgium
Carl De Keyzer started his career as a freelance photographer in 1982, while supporting himself as a photography instructor at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent. At the same time, he became the co-founder and co-director of the XYZ-Photography Gallery. A Magnum nominee in 1990, he became a full member in 1994.
De Keyzer, who regularly exhibits his work in European galleries and museums, is represented in many important collections including those at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent, Fnac Collection, Paris, Centro de Arte, Salamanca and the Magnum Photo Collection, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin. He is the recipient of many awards including Les Rencontres d’Arles Book Award, Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography (1986), W. Eugene Smith Award (1990) and Prix de la Critique Kodak (1992).
De Keyzer tackles large-scale projects and general themes. A basic premise in much of his work is that, in overpopulated communities everywhere, disaster has already struck and infrastructures are on the verge of collapse. His style is not dependent on isolated images; instead, he prefers an accumulation of images which interact with text (often taken from his own travel diaries). He has published many books including: India (1987), Homo Sovieticus (1989), God, Inc. (1992), East of Eden (1996), EVROPA (2000), ZONA (2003), Trinity (2007), Congo (Belge) (2010) and Moments Before the Flood (2012).
Luc Delahaye, Various works, 2008 – 2011
Robert Adams, Turning Back, 1999-2001
Daniel Beltrá, Spill, 2010
Mohamed Bourouissa, Périphérique, 2005-2008
Philippe Chancel, Fukushima: The Irresistible Power of Nature, 2011
Edmund Clark, Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out, 2009
Carl De Keyzer, Moments Before the Flood, 2009-2011
Rena Effendi, Still Life in the Zone, 2010
Jacqueline Hassink, Arab Domains, 2005-2006
An-My Lê, 29 Palms, 2003
Joel Sternfeld, When it Changed, 2005
Guy Tillim, Congo Democratic, 1997-2006