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Ground Sea. Photography and the Right to Be Reborn. Hilde Van Gelder

Presentation by Hilde Van Gelder in conversation with Jochen Becker/metroZones

Hilde Van Gelder's associative travelogue ‘Ground Sea. Photography and the Right to Be Reborn’ takes the image sequence ‘Deep Six / Passer au bleu’ (1996/1998) by the US photographer Allan Sekula, who died in 2013, as a basis to explore the border landscape near the French/English Channel Tunnel.
Combining ethnography, visual material, political philosophy, cultural geography and critical analysis, ‘Ground Sea’ takes an innovative methodological approach. Inspired by the meandering writings of W.G. Sebald, Javier Marías and Roland Barthes, Van Gelder develops a style that is both interdisciplinary and personal: the strait of Dover seen through the lens of photographic theory.
Here, Hilde van Gelder repeatedly runs up against the indifference of an increasingly divided European Union towards people on the run who are stranded near Calais. The contested sea passage next to the Euro-Tunnel becomes a microcosm where our current global challenges of migration, climate change, human rights and neoliberal surveillance technology converge.
Together with the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerp (MUHKA), the Belgian photo historian explored Sekula's latest body of work ‘Ship of Fools / The Dockers Museum’ (Lieven Gevaert, Volume 19). Now she draws on other contemporary works such as those by Sylvain George and Bruno Serralongue, as well as her own artistically informed methodology, to approach the tragedy of refugees stranded at European borders in a total of 1,000 sprawling pages.
„The book is about those who are stranded close to the sea but at the same time about all of us, who will have to accept that learning to sail or float on water will increasingly be our fate if we do not succeed to work together to contain the rise in sea levels.“ Hilde Van Gelder
Hilde Van Gelder will also present the artistic materials (a leporello and a nautical chart) that she created in relation to her book for the Brussels-based curatorial and editorial platform De Blinkerd, which she founded in 2020.
www.groundsea.be | www.deblinkerd.be
Ground Sea
Photography and the Right to Be Reborn
Hilde Van Gelder
Lieven Gevaert Series, Volume 30
Leuven University Press 2021
ISBN 9789462702653, two-volume edition: 1,000 pages, English