16 October, 2020 — 21 March, 2021
Mattias A. Klum
Our time on Earth
Mattias A. Klum started as a photographer when he was 17. Later he was the first-ever Swede to have his photograph of a silvered leaf monkey on the cover of National Geographic. For about 35 years he has passionately followed the changes of the planet’s nature, fauna, vulnerable cultures, and environments, always through his camera. He has shared these moments with a fascinated world, who through unique images got the chance to come along on his journeys. His motivation: to, through his love for nature and his holistic view on life, inspire the realization that it is how we use our time on Earth that decides its future. And he is hopeful.
“New techniques and more cyclic thinking in, for instance, food production, changes behaviors. And that development is advancing quickly, with the younger generation pushing it on, which gives hope for the future”, Mattias A. Klum says.
An explorer of Tellus
An explorer of Tellus, whose gaze and camera have, for over three decades, captured moments on Earth we will never forget. Whether it’s the little frog hidden in the greenery of Borneo, life in the ocean, the most toxic snakes whose genetic and molecular traits can be used for new medical treatments, or the rainforest and the people living there who are threatened by the palm oil industry – they all carry a story that grips and unites us. A story about the fragility and beauty in the transience of everything, coupled with the strength of all living things.
Mattias A. Klum is now, for the first time, coming to Fotografiska Stockholm with the exhibition Our time on Earth. We get to follow him to some of the places where he’s worked: like different ventricles in the heart that’s always been beating to spread the message of the world’s splendor – and how it’s all connected.
“The experience that everything is fleeting is, for me, incredible. The fact that the planet today is so dependent on humanity’s ability to handle our existence with care inspires humility. And to my great joy, it’s now possible to answer ʻyesʻ to the question of if it’s possible to help the planet, and still live a pleasant life”, he says.
This photographer, filmmaker, and author, with his unique language and understanding of nature’s beauty and inherent drama, makes a distinct imprint in this changing world we are all a part of. With photographs, films, and texts that sometimes gently guide and sometimes more forcefully urge us, he brings us to staggering realizations. All this life is progressing – right now, at this moment – and we humans are both part of the problem, and of the solution. This realisation makes our lives meaningful: how you choose to spend your time on Earth affects how the future turns out.
As the first Swede ever, and also one of the youngest in the world (he was 29 when his picture of the silvered leaf monkey was first on the cover of National Geographic), Klum has graced many covers and made many photo-stories for magazines like NG, New York Times, GEO, and Der Spiegel. His pictures have been exhibited internationally and he’s behind several award-winning films and TV-productions, and he has published several books. Some examples are “Big World Small Planet” about sustainable planet-care, in cooperation with the fierce Johan Rockström, professor of Environmental Science; and the declaration of love to nature that is the “Perpetual Calendar of Life” with Dr. Jane Goodall, world-famous anthropologist and chimpanzee expert.
During these years, Mattias A. Klum has met, and tried to inspire and influence, everyone from school children to tribal chiefs, presidents, business executives, and royalty all over the world, and with his camera, he has followed the changes in the climate with extreme weather, floods, and drought. These are consequences of humanity’s shortsighted brutality as we took charge and lorded over efficient and sustainable ecosystems, that had previously evolved and regulated the planet for millions of years.
“It’s as if Nature is sending an invoice back to the economy. The economic models that rarely show any consideration for the finite, and sometimes fragile, system of the planet. The invoice includes climate changes that also affect human living conditions negatively, for instance as extreme weather: processes I have tried to show in my work in different ways. For me, a holistic view on life goes without saying, since I’ve seen how everything affects everything else. We’ve long since reached the point where we, having plundered without calculating the long-time consequences for animal- and natural life, should choose a richer, more sound, healthy, and sustainable road”.
And you can’t avoid it: if you look at one of Klum’s images, it takes you right to that place.
“Say the name Mattias Klum, and images and sounds from the farthest corners of the world come to mind – from the rustling night sounds in the deep forests of Borneo, to the clunk of icebergs against the side of a ship in the Arctic. Through his work, he hasn’t just shown us scenes from the animal- and natural worlds that we would otherwise never have experienced, he has also given us a sense of responsibility – the survival of this living treasure is up to us humans, and how we use our time on Earth”, says Lisa Hydén, exhibition manager at Fotografiska Stockholm.
For this treasure trove of images, we can thank the restless, seeking personality of this dedicated 52-year-old who has spent most of his life, since he was 17, traveling with his camera. Instead of finding his niche and staying there, he’s stubbornly and passionately kept finding new ways to explore the planet.
Since meeting his wife and partner, Iris, almost five years ago, and forming their artist duo Alexandrov Klum, Mattias is now also taking new steps towards a more artistic way of working, that gives even more freedom of expression – but the message is still the same. The stories told still revolve around Humanity and Nature in a changing world.
My vision is to contribute to those experiencing my images, films, and texts, in their realization and amazement that ‘I get to live right now, and see all this...
...It’s important that this remains for future generations to experience. And with all new technology, in, for example, energy- and food production, the increasing interest in cyclic thinking, and conscious steps away from consumerism and the ‘wear and teaar’ culture, there is a definite possibility to effectively and joyfully contribute to this, through our everyday choices, says Klum.