Above (Hardcover)

Above By Thomas Crauwels (Photographer), Vivian Bruchez (Preface by) Cover Image

Above (Hardcover)

By Thomas Crauwels (Photographer), Vivian Bruchez (Preface by)


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There is a world that remains unknown to most, it is that of the high mountains. A few seasoned climbers have access to it, but some do not associate this dizzying passion with a practice of artistic photography. Very close to us, it was enough for a young native of the Belgian flat country to meet the summits of the Swiss Alps and the Mont-Blanc Massif to decide to devote his life to it. Today, more than 10 years after a first initiatory hike in Valais and then discovering the Matterhorn, he devotes himself body and soul to one thing: seeing and photographing the Alps.

If nothing predisposed Thomas Crauwels to become both a photographer and a mountaineer, with ABOVE, his first book, he proves that he has today become one of the only photographers to be able to offer such images of summits all located more than 4000 meters above sea level. Thanks to him, we have access to extraordinary landscapes.

His black and white approach, his mastery of contrasts and lights, and a maturity acquired through his explorations allow him to sublimate the mountain without ever freezing it in a stereotypical representation. Each of his images is the result of a decisive moment, carefully thought out and elaborated, whether it concerns the organization of his expeditions or the mental construction of the images to be created.

Cartographic studies, choice of the right weather window, and formal research geared towards the quest for purity are at the service of a double desire: both to restore an emotion and to preserve the magic of a fleeting moment. ABOVE is therefore not a mountain book like any other. Above all, he tells the story of a photographer's consuming passion for a massif whose sumptuous beauty he has captured.

The repetition of black and white images underlines the fascination exerted on the photographer by the vertigo of a summit, the pure line of a ridge, the white light of a hanging glacier, the harmony of a peak, the slope of a precipice, the verticality of a wall. Throughout the chapters, the photographer becomes the messenger of a contemplation where aesthetics are combined if not with the mystic, at least with his quest. In a slow process of idealization, the mountain takes on all the finery of a true sacred figure, appearing and then disappearing.

Thomas Crauwels is in this respect a worthy heir to the French romantic writers who discovered the mountain landscape towards the end of the 18th century at the same time that Horace-Benedict de Saussure inaugurated, in 1787, the conquest of the summits of the Alps for scientific reasons. The photographer followed in Rousseau's footsteps and the mountains acted on him as the engine of his poetic imagination. Through his practice, he expresses the unalterable link between a wild, inaccessible nature and the strength of feelings and emotions that humans are able to experience and express. The mountain is unique in that it brings excitement to everyone. From the sublime to mysticism, the mountain is as much an aesthetic adventure as a physical experience. Photography, like mountaineering, is first of all a body in motion, a body in action.

Inaccessible land, ultimate territory of freedom? Inhuman earth? ABOVE proves to what extent geo-graphy and photo-graphy are closely intertwined when the mountain becomes the theater of their sacred union, territory of beauty, and of chaos to be overcome.

That the mountain is the privileged place for an experience of the sublime is only a return to etymology: what rises above us is sublime. In "contact with extremes", Thomas Crauwels knows he is faced with a quest for the impossible and the ideal.
Product Details ISBN: 9782490952281
ISBN-10: 2490952285
Publisher: Editions Hemeria
Publication Date: March 11th, 2022
Pages: 200
Language: German