Aerial photograph of art installation 'respect' written on the sand.

An impression of infinity

The best art is not simply a broadcast media. Yet, when it is amplified it engages its audiences in new and powerful ways.

Wim Tellier works big.

So big, in fact, that if you do a search for his photographic installations, you’ll find dozens of aerial photographs. His most famous work, ‘Time’, was a 3000m2 vulnerable crab, magnified by 1000 times and positioned to be deliberately walked over, making a statement on humankind’s ecological footprint. He also garnered notoriety for his installation in Antarctica and six giant photographs of elderly naked sunbathers.

His latest project ‘Share’ began life over the weekend of 30th June on Knokke-Heist beach in Belgium as an incredible kilometre-long timeline of 600 photographs, intended to call for “respect – respect by all for all! Respect by everyone for everything!”

Close-up image of the installation spelling 'respect'
Art installation using Canon Océ Colorado 1640 Press, by Wim Tellier.
An image of the city and beach where the art installation is.
Aerial view of the kilometre long art installation looking out to sea.

Every image is a composite of new and old. An image from the past of an event, experience or snapshot of a relevant moment from that person’s existence is combined with a current shot – by Tellier – of the contributor. Each story is created in intense collaboration and the result is a unique photographic document: personal, yet not.

The 600 huge image files were printed on a Canon Océ Colorado 1640 to form a continuous one kilometre timeline, which was installed parallel to the sea and, through it’s sheer length, creates the impression of infinity to those on the beach.

A video of Wim Tellier's creation of the 'respect' art installation.

Stage 2: Art after art

A trademark of Tellier’s work is that it doesn't end when the installation is complete. Many of his pieces travel or are repurposed in order to further his message. Over the course of the project, Tellier discovered a common theme in all the stories he was told – Respect. The piece then took on a new life as a limited edition print in which all the photos are reshaped to form the word ‘Respect’, written in the script of a seven-year-old child.

Stage 3: The Death Zone

The best art is not simply a broadcast media. Yet, when it is amplified it engages its audiences in new and powerful ways.

There are only 14 mountains in the world from which you can access ‘The Death Zone’ – a height of over 8000 metres at which there is not enough oxygen for a human to breathe. To reach the peak of these mountains, climbers carry oxygen, but many hundreds of climbers have perished nonetheless.

In September, Tellier is taking ‘respect’ to The Death Zone of the sixth tallest mountain in the world, Cho Oyu, or “the roof of the world” and in doing so he is making a poignant statement on the power of our planet and calls for world solidarity while the world is, quite literally, at his feet.

Written by Filip Vandenbempt

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