Roberto Fernández Ibáñez (Uruguay)
Mountains of Uncerrtainty and Afterfracking
In these times we think of our relationship with nature as a problem. It is the same problem as the human condition. In the map of either one, there are two main fields, pleasure and suffering, and in the middle, there is a core line of survival.
The world seems to have lost its sacred roots, its magic. In Max Weber’s words, we are living the disenchantment of the world. This is the basis of a project on which I am working. If the world doesn’t have a soul, does it matter what we do with it? For many, their way of living and being in this world is to satisfy comfort/pleasure demands—embracing short-term goals which are used to define productivity, competitiveness, and efficiency, everything the sooner the better.
The environment is seen as something outside us, something to satisfy utilitarian purposes. Focused on the short term, we close our eyes to the consequences. When the cost-benefit relationship is not taken into account, suffering moves one step forward while the voice of survival is silenced or misheard.
Circumstances can be changed to support the ecosystem, but the question is how. The world is commanded by people accustomed to power, and there will be no change for the better unless there is a drastic change in the way they think. Fear could be the trigger for that transformation, but I think wisdom is the key.
The rest of us, the majority, must know the difference between energy resources that are ecologically friendly, and those that are not. We must recognize the ones that may have irreversible consequences, such as energy extraction that leads to aquifer contamination, seismic shifts from vibrations produced by explosions, greenhouse effects, climate change, and the like. We must act on the understanding that the ephemeral richness of today could become the permanent scarcity of tomorrow.
Through the years, as I tried to express my thoughts and feelings in art, I was often seduced by the beauty I found here and there, and I photographed what attracted my attention. But these are times that require more lucid choices. As an artist, I would like my work to be seen not just as a personal view of nice images, but rather as a wake-up call to action. I don’t see myself as having a relationship with the planet: I am the planet. Do you see yourself this way, too, or as someone external to it? As a matter of practical philosophy, how you see yourself has a direct impact on the planet, because this is where we are: living cells in a living body. But too many of us treat the planet as if it were something inert.
To exhaust and harm the Earth is to exhaust and harm ourselves. Everything we do or think has consequences. Nothing is too insignificant or minor to not have an effect. Let’s give common sense a chance. Efficiency without compassion, productivity without long-term vision, and taking without giving more than we take create irresponsible behavior. The human condition.
Roberto Fernández Ibáñez
Uruguayan artist Roberto G. Fernández Ibáñez creates unique works using his own darkroom techniques and formulas. His work has been included in exhibitions at FotoFest, Houston; Fotográfica Bogotá;Lianzhou Foto Festival, China; Fototeca Latinoamericana (FoLa), Buenos Aires; Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; Festivalde la Luz, Buenos Aires; Galerie Huit, Arles, France; ABC Treehouse, Amsterdam; and FotoWeekDC, Washington, D.C. His work was also part of the exhibitions International Discoveries V (2015), The Collector’s Eye: Collection of Frazier King (2012), and The Collector’s Eye: Peers—Collection of Fernando Castro (2010) at FotoFest in Houston. In Montevideo, Uruguay, he has exhibited at Centro de Fotografia, Museo y Archivo Histórico Municipal Cabildo, and Ministerio de Educación y Cultura. His handmade artist’s books include haiku, prose, drawing, and photography.
Fernández’s work can be found in collections worldwide including those of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; and Fototeca Latinoamericano, Buenos Aires. His work has been published in Image and Memory: Latin American Photography 1866-1994 (Houston: Rice University Press, 1998); “Roberto Fernández Ibáñez, Renaissance Man,” an interview by Alasdair Foster, Photoworld Magazine China, vol. 387 (March 2014); and Alaska Editions, vol. 2 (London: LensCulture with Sanderson Studios). He won the International Portfolio Review at Festival de Luz, Buenos Aires, in 2004 and 2014. He also received the Morosoli Award in Arts, Uruguay, in recognition of his artistic trajectory and his contribution to Uruguayan culture.