B A R E
Words Alexandra Stevens
“It’s really a land stripped bare,” he describes. “It’s the quintessence of wilderness; it’s where you see the skeleton of the earth. There’s no cover. No clothes, no skin, you really just see the geology.”
When I began to question Jean de Pomereu about his fascination with the Arctic, he was quick to interject. “My photography is on Antarctica, which is the South Pole, with the Arctic being the North Pole,” he corrected gently. “But that’s just a technicality.”
Antarctica is the only continent in the world with no indigenous human culture, and no permanent human residents. A select bunch of durable mammals call Antarctica home all year around, enduring temperatures that have reached as low as -89 °C. Much unlike it’s northern sister, Antarctica didn’t see human life until the early 1800’s. The Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration began at the turn of the 20th century with frequent expeditions out of Europe, led by figures like Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton. Some explorers brought along photographers, the first to visually document unexplored territory. Their aesthetic at the time was driven by eras of Romanticism and Classicism, in which a defining aspect was photography with human reference.
“They would try as much as possible to have something in the frame that was human - a person, a ship, an object,” de Pomereu said of early Antarctic photographers, like Herbert Ponting and Frank Hurley. De Pomereu has, among many other projects, spent several years re-editing the work of these early photographers, helping re-release old photos to be displayed and examined. The first Antarctic images relay a strange, haunting landscape; tiny human silhouettes perch atop peaks of ice, huge ships so dwarfed by icebergs that they look like toys. Capture Jean De Pomereu Interview feature No.12...