The emergence of environmental issues has had a profound impact on the way artists look at polar animals. They are no longer seen only as unknown, exotic, wild species but as endangered species to be protected. The work of photographers then appeared essential. Indeed, the latter benefit from a privileged medium that can reflect the beauty of these animals while demonstrating their great fragility.
Paul NICKLEN’s work is representative of this balance. He captures in his photographs, through his biologist’s gaze, polar bears in their natural environment. They are then captured in motion, in majestic postures. The work brought to the light sublimates these photographs, which can disconcert the viewer. Nevertheless, by photographing them on a melting glacier, in a snow-free landscape or by photographing a gaze, Paul NICKLEN moves the viewer. He invites us not only to see these animals as magnificent beasts but as endangered species. He then underlines the emerging tension between their power and the threats of global warming.
The photographs of Stéphane AISENBERG also follow this trend, by confronting the wild aspect and the fragility of these animals. In his photographs, always very orchestrated, he stages polar animals like a portrait painter. He then establishes an almost intimate relationship between the spectator and the animal. In a face to face encounter, from which he cannot extricate himself, the viewer finds himself confronted with the animals. He must then question his otherness. This allows the photographer to bring the viewer to awareness of ecological issues.