In Helene Schmitz’s photographic work Studies in Falling, a captivating landscape, sea, and coastal landscape are in focus, whose cliffs and shores are simultaneously undergoing rapid erosion. On miles of beaches are long rows of concrete blocks, placed to break the powerful movement of the waves. The sea shimmers in subtle shades between blue and green, wrapped in a hazy calm. The photographs lead the viewer in the varied terrain among steep cliffs and with the white limestone sparkling in the light. Suddenly, as if placed in a painting by Caspar David Friedrich, the gaze falls from a great height on white mountain cliffs, where lush greenery climbs along the rocks in one direction, and a magnificent sea spreads out in the other. In the photographs there is a beauty and drama that evokes the romantic period of the nineteenth century, but also to a sense of deception.
Helene Schmitz describes the process of grinding limestone into cement, resulting in high carbon dioxide emissions and rising sea levels. The production of concrete embankments to protect people from flooding is also part of the destructive chain. As an irony, it is often the most beautiful places that are the most interesting for large-scale exploitation, she notes. Even bunkers that look like solitary boulders lie, as if in a falling movement, along the decaying coast. Since the 1940s, they have been dropping off the slopes over time. One day the sea will have swallowed them.
In a series of magnificent photographic projects over the years, Helene Schmitz has depicted nature and its exposure to human impact, but also the power and violence found in nature itself, as for example in the series Earthworks and Kudzu Project, in which the sands in the Namibian desert and the invasive plant, Kudzu (Pueraria montana), planted in the southeastern United States, spread in an uncontrolled way. The ”Forest project,” from the series Thinking like a Mountain, shown at Waldermarsudde in 2018, depicts a beautiful interplay of majestic tree trunks in a forest whose symmetry suggests that it is planted. Nature and man live side by side, sometimes with devastating consequences. Through a detailed, meditative, and poetic imagery, a world of images is conveyed, highlighting the enigmatic relationship between nature and man.
Helene Schmitz, born 1960 in Stockholm, she has a BA in Film and Art History, Stockholm University. She has had numerous exhibitions in Sweden and internationally. Recent exhibitions include ”Dreamland” (House of Sweden, Washington 2021), ”Thinking Lika a Mountain” (Fotografiska, New York 2020), ”Thinking Lika a Mountain” (Waldemarsudde, Stockholm 2018) ”Transitions” (Skellefteå konsthall, 2017), ”Transitions” (Fotografiska Stockholm, 2016), Galerie Maria Lund (Paris, 2016) and ”Borderlands” (Dunkers kulturhus, Helsingborg 2015). She has also produced several award-winning books: Thinking Like a Mountain (2018), Borderlands (2015), Ur regnskogens skugga (2011), System and Passion (2007) and Blow Up(2003). Helene Schmitz’s work is represented in private and public collections in Sweden and internationally.