As an artist and activist, « artivist » would say the director of La Maison de la Photographie, Yann Arthus Bertrand spent forty years flying over Earth. To show its beauty, its inhabitants, to spread love, his love, for nature, for others. Today, he is closing the World Forum for a Responsible Economy and made an apparition at the vernissage of his exhibition in Lille-Fives.
Your pictures show the beauty of the world but also represent the urgent need to help the planet, what can you say about that ?
First, you do not have to « help » the planet, it does not make sense. We can talk about protecting life on Earth. We have to stop saying « helping the planet ». What is important now, is save the comfort in which we live, the climat which had permitted us to develop : that is the most important. Not « saving » the planet.
All these pictures are visions of the world. You cannot do this type of work, meeting people, scientists, farmers, without being transcended yourself. You realise the problem. This is a sort of reflexion on the way we live, which is destroying our ressources.
Is your engagement coming from this perception of the world ?
No, no, this is a job which change a man completely. We cannot photograph for fifty years, and mostly twenty years of interest in biodiversity, nature, without being transformed. When you see what is happening today, it is unbelievable. How can we all be there, having a good time, drinking, and talking about the end of the world ?
The call from the 15.000 scientists in Paris last year, talking about the same thing, the end of the world, is important. They are shaking us up : Tomorrow it will be too late, wake up ! This is more relevant than what I could say.
Regarding the World Forum theme, « super local », do you think that new economical models can change our relation toward the world ?
I do not know a thing about economy. Our world today is some sort of religion of growth. Religion of throwing, producing. All around us, we show it in the papers, on television, on the radio, on the street ! We say : « Buy so you can be happy ». After all this religion of growth, we have to produce, this is capitalism. We destroy the planet, every one of us ! But we also benefit from it. This is complicated, getting out of capitalism, getting out of this religion of growth. It is a system which keeps us alive.
Every head of State today only dreams about one thing. A growth jump. And this jump is not acceptable for the environment. It is kind of schizophrenic, we are completely lost in front of all this. It does not make me want to talk about it anymore. We do not know what to do, we do not have a solution. As long as we keep working with this system of growth, we cannot move forward. So yes, of course, things are moving but it is not sufficient compared to what we could do. I will not criticise good initiatives but it is not sufficient ! We need a real revolution. A change of life. Although, it seems impossible.
So what is this revolution you are talking about ?
It is spiritual. My son is thirty and is an organic vegetable farmer, he became vegan. He says « I do not want to be like my father, a well-known photographer. I want to be useful, plant, live simply with a sufficient salary. » I think he is right.
These movements calling for local consumption, local investments, with these, are we on the right path ?
Of course. You go to a supermarket here, you will understand quickly. There are products from all around the world. I was in Tahiti last week and they served me salmon from Norway ! Knowing that there are fishes all round in the lagoon ! It a sort of comfort tyranny. It easy to eat salmon from Norway so why not in Tahiti ?
Here, we benefit all from the system, which is no longer viable. However, we do not find any other solution that following from the system. It is difficult to change the growth because here it pays for how hospitals, roads, schools. Nevertheless, what we did with a billon people cannot be the same with seven billions.
Moreover today, every countries in development is trying to follow us. Then, if we keep giving on this example of comfort which is killing the planet, they will do the same.
Clemence Hervieux and Estelle Kammerer