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Exhibitions and Events

New video installation at U-M shows human impact of climate change

By Sydney Hawkins

Lucas Williams, Lawshe Plantation, South Carolina, October 2015; Photograph by Gideon Mendel, part of his Drowning World Project.

ANN ARBOR—A new installation at the University of Michigan’s Institute for the Humanities will show the human effects of flooding and climate change through a riveting five-channel video installation.

As part of the institute’s 2018-19 theme Humanities and Environments, “Deluge” will be on view Nov. 9-Dec. 18. It is the culmination of artist and photographer Gideon Mendel’s 11-year “Drowning World Project,” which explores the global scale, universality and personal impact of recent catastrophic natural disasters.

Gideon Mendel

Gideon Mendel

Since 2007, Mendel has been documenting the impact of climate change through a series of intimate portraits and video footage of individuals who have endured and survived floods. The project has spanned 13 countries, including Haiti (2008), Pakistan (2010), India (2014), Brazil (2015) and Bangladesh (2015), among others.

Documentation of recent floods in Texas, Florida and the Carolinas are also part of the installation.

“I feel as if his work connects us globally—it leads to an understanding that we are all connected, that it isn’t one community or one country that is isolated, that climate change affects all of us,” said Amanda Krugliak, curator and assistant director of arts programming at the U-M Institute for the Humanities.

“It demonstrates our true responsibility to one another, our responsibility to find collective solutions.”

According to Mendel, “Deluge” depicts a variety of individual stories, positioned with a “synchronous global narrative in ways that are both personally intimate and deeply political.”

The installation, which fully activates Mendel’s work for the first time, is concurrently on view in Jacksonville, Fla., and Houston.A leading contemporary photographer, Mendel’s intimate style of image making and long-term commitment to projects has earned him international recognition and many awards. His career has been notable for his engagement with three of the crucial political and social issues that have faced his generation: apartheid in South Africa, HIV/AIDS in Africa and climate change.

An opening exhibition reception and interview with Mendel will take place at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, at the Institute for the Humanities Gallery, located at 202 S. Thayer St. in Ann Arbor. The gallery is free and open to the public 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays.

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