NOORDERLICHT · The term “Biophilia” was first used by Erich Fromm to describe the psychological orientation of being attracted to all that is alive, and literally means love for life or living systems. The Biophilia Hypothesis was a step beyond; Edward O. Wilson introduced it in 1984, suggesting an instinctive, subconscious bond between human beings and other living systems. Wilson concludes that the deep relationship between humans and nature is rooted in our biology. Human preferences towards natural things, while refined through experience and culture, are hypothetically the product of biological evolution. In other words, our natural love for life helps sustain life itself.
The humankind is globally facing an historical era of radical changes, a major shift from the Modern to the Post Modern Age, in which most social structures have failed or are on the verge to collapse, opening the way to new models. We’re living an environmental crisis, a financial crisis but mostly a crisis of the human spirit. The disorientation resulting from this much needed disorder leads us all to rethink and possibly to reshape our lives, in different ways. Nature turns out to be – if not the answer – at least the asylum in which more and more people look for new models of living.
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54th VENICE BIENNALE · Placebo is a journey through darkness, a travelogue of Vernaschi’s immersion into a sensual, introspective search. Through a series of dreamlike and real excursions he illustrates this transformation from confusion to clarity.
Boundaries crumble as he pushes himself, using photography as a divining rod to direct him to the centre of his subconscious where silence and isolation are balanced against frenetic fury. The self-indulgence of existential questioning is embedded deep within the work, light trails through the images, creating a surrealistic stage on which his subjects shimmer and glow.
Each narrative evokes an earthy sense of animal instinct, which also colors sexual scenes that make up an integral part of the journey. There is little romance to be found in the sexual narrative, no “happily ever after” fairy dust falling on these images, each vignette is an immediate raw exploration that begins and ends with sheer desire.
Placebo marks a shift in how Vernaschi photographs; with Placebo, he has emerged with a different kind of document, one that investigates the foundations of what makes us human and reveals the fine line which separates that human-ness from primal nature.
Peggy Sue Amison – Curator
NARCO STATE · An international network led by Latin American drug cartels and the Lebanese Islamist group Hezbollah has chosen West Africa, among the poorest and more corrupted corners of the world, as the nexus for illegal trade in cocaine, oil, counterfeit medicines, pirated music and human trafficking. International law enforcement officials say the profits fuel terrorist activities worldwide.
Through the past years, drug trafficking increased significantly, making West Africa — and especially in Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Ghana and Guinea — the premier narcotics region of Africa. The consequences are most visible in Guinea-Bissau, which saw the double assassination of its president and army chief on the same day in March 2009 and more recently the murder of two leading politicians in the struggle for succession.
Double Assassination A Bomb and Private Jets Hezbollah and Al Qaida
The Latin American Connection A Gangster’s Paradise Cocaine’s Other Face
CHILD SACRIFICE · Child sacrifice in Uganda is a phenomenon that has embedded itself within traditional customs but that bears no genuine relationship to local culture. The appeal to “cultural beliefs” is actually an excuse used by witchdoctors to justify their crimes, and by the Ugandan government to avoid taking action. The government tries to minimize the magnitude of the problem because politicians fear losing votes and this is a a country where witchdoctors wield surprising influence at the polls. Most victims are children. Behind the torture, mutilation and killing of the victims lies just one single cause: money. This fraudulent business moves through every social class, from the poorest villagers who live out of the capital to rich tycoons and generals who determine the wealth and stability of the country.
DYING for TREATMENT · Sub-Saharan Africa, the poorest region on Earth, is a place where more than 600,000 women die in pregnancy or childbirth every year due to lack of proper care and only 30 percent of the population has access to health care at all. The situation in Guinea-Bissau is among the worst in the region. In the capital, Bissau, there is only one working, equipped surgery room. One in eight women die giving birth and babies often don’t survive the first two days of their lives.
SEEDS for LIFE · Over the past decade, Argentina became the world’s third largest soya producer revitalizing its economy and recovering from the financial crash that hit the country in 2001. However, there are doubts as to the sustainability of soya expansion, after the area under cultivation rose by nearly 1,000% between 1980 and 2015, from 2.0 million hectares to some 20.7 million. The downside of the transgenic soya boom is worrying and translates into habitat destruction and desertification risk, a huge carbon footprint and serious health concerns. The Bitter Harvest series was developed for BIOPHILIA’s awareness campaign, SEEDS for LIFE.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC · Argentina is a promised land blessed with incredible beauty and potential. These series were produced during a long journey through the South American country, while developing a map of rural farmers and small food producers. The story was featured on National Geographic Magazine, introducing a few indigenous communities as well as BIOPHILIA, created by Marco Vernaschi to foster regenerative agriculture and shape a fair and sustainable food system.