Milan, Max Vadukul at Sozzani Foundation with an exhibition on climate change

Until Jan. 8, Milan's Fondazione Sozzani is hosting the exhibition 'The Witness - Climate Change,' a project by British photographer Max Vadukul dedicated to climate change.

The Sozzani Foundation presents, under the patronage of the City of Milan, British photographer Max Vadukul ’s (Nairobi, 1961) exhibition The Witness, Climate Change, a reportage of twenty large-format images devoted entirely to the environment and the effects of climate change. Vadukul documented between 2018 and 2020 in Mumbai and other major Indian metropolises, some of the world’s most polluted areas with a mesmerizing and thought-provoking look that speaks truth and asks questions.

The first thing one notices in the images of The Witness - Climate Change is a large shiny metal sphere. This monolith floats above toxic dumps, hovers over expanses of garbage, flies amidst hectic and polluting traffic. What exactly is this intruder? For Vadukul it is a kind of cosmic observer, a witness watching man’s devastating impact on the environment and the effects of climate change. At the same time, perhaps the orb represents a new future and the possibility of improvement.

Max Vadukul is one of the very few photographers of his generation to continue the tradition of artistic reportage photography. His projects are often related to naturalistic and cultural aspects that are open to readings on multiple levels. His images, perfect in terms of formal creativity and technical skill, are visually structured as a mediating element between the identification of a narrative theme and his very personal creative language.

"My passion for art reportage has now turned toward the theme of climate change. I thought I would expand on my recent Witness project started in 2018 around Mumbai and Kolkatta. In these images there is often a sphere. People look at it and try to understand why it is there and what it represents. The reality is in front of the infinite sphere, behind the cosmic sphere, above and below it, it is a globe similar to our planet. I created it because I intend to tell the truth with the power of the image itself, without manipulation. I would like to show the most beautiful places that we are losing due to lack of awareness and attention, the areas that are already experiencing the real and powerful effects of climate change; the pristine nature sanctuaries and wildlife species on the planet that are declining and at risk of extinction due to these changes. But I would also like to counter alarmism by showing the beauty that our actions can make possible."

A master of light and shadow, Max Vadukul has portrayed some of the world’s best-known personalities over the years, including Mother Teresa, Donald Trump, Aretha Franklin and Kanye West. A selection of famous portraits from the 1980s-1990s such as 22 Nobel Laureates, the Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop & Anthony Bourdain, Julian Assange, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Aretha Franklin, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio will also be on display. Vadukul’s distinctive black-and-white style, which combines dynamic spontaneity with refined techniques, is widely recognized for its originality and iconic power. He was a longtime photojournalist for The New Yorker and currently works regularly with international magazines such as: The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Vogue Italia, France, India, China, Egoïste, Icon and Numéro.

Max Vadukul was born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1961, to Indian parents of the Gujarati diaspora who settled in then-British East Africa in the early 1900s. At the age of nine, during the unrest that followed Kenya’s independence, Vadukul moved to England and grew up in a working-class neighborhood in north London. In elementary school he picked up a camera that was at home-his father worked for Zeiss, the German lens manufacturer-and from then on his goal was to become a photographer. At the age of 22 he was discovered by Yohji Yamamoto, who hired him to shoot some of his prestigious advertising campaigns. From that moment Vadukul began working for Vogue Paris alongside David Bailey, Paolo Roversi, Deborah Turbeville, Barry Lategan, and Helmut Newton. Vadukul’s work spans thirty-eight years with major creative chapters for Rolling Stone, Esquire, Égoïste, W, Town & Country and The New Yorker, where, in 1996, he replaced Richard Avedon. In 2000 he published the book Max: Photographs by Max Vadukul. His work has been the subject of numerous solo and group exhibitions, including: Beyond Words: Photography in The New Yorker, at the Howard Greenberg Gallery (2011); Yohji’s Women at Wapping Project Bankside (2011); and Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History 1955 to the Present, at the Brooklyn Museum of Art (2009). Recently honored at the Taormina Fashion Festival, Vadukul is preparing his next exhibition at the Al Safa Art and Design Library in Dubai.

For all information, you can visit the official website of the Sozzani Foundation.

Pictured: Max Vadukul, taxy driver from the series The Witness, College Street, Kolkata (India), 2019 © Max Vadukul

Milan, Max Vadukul at Sozzani Foundation with an exhibition on climate change
Milan, Max Vadukul at Sozzani Foundation with an exhibition on climate change

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