Costa Brazil launched a year ago with a mission to help us all reconnect with the world in a beautiful, sensuous, sustainable way.
To further the effort to protect the planet's vital rainforests, we established a Creative Coalition of passionate individuals rooted in the arts to create beautiful, provocative work that captures people’s attention and inspires them to take action against the climate crisis.
In return for each person’s participation, we preserve acres of tropical rainforest in their name, with the help of our partner Conservation International.
Our debut project is a gorgeous series of gelatin silver prints that represent depictions of palm trees, photographed by the Belgian artist Bruno V. Roels.
These works have protected 80 acres of tropical rainforest, or roughly 20,000 trees, in places where Conservation International works.
CB: Tell us about your creative process.
BVR: The gelatin silver print is one of the oldest and most basic ways to make decent black and white prints in the analogue dark room. The print is made on a fibre-based paper that has been coated with a light sensitive emulsion. The process has been around since the 1870s, so it's a good 150 years old. As an artist, I feel part of a much greater tradition. I also like it because it's reasonably easy. You need some secondhand equipment, a room that you can make pitch dark and you're ready to go.
CB: Why palm trees?
BVR: I like to play around with repetition and variation. If I take one analogue negative, I can turn that image into hundreds of different versions. Palm trees are highly recognizable, so I can make all kinds of variations but people will still ‘read’ the photo as ‘a palm tree.’ On top of that, palm trees have all kinds of meaning attached. These meanings differ throughout history and depend on the culture you’re part of. I was raised in Belgium in the ’80s, I only know palm trees from the movies and TV (“Magnum P.I.,” “Miami Vice,” “Indiana Jones”).To me, they mean ‘luxury, leisure, adventure, wealth, holiday.’ But at the same time, I realize that that kind of thinking is rooted in Western colonialism.
CB: You often present your work in series, each a slight tweak on the same subject.
BVR: One of the reasons I’m successful as a photographer is that I allow mistakes to happen in my process. I allow mistakes and use them to break certain rules about photography or print making. I’m not looking for perfection, I’m looking for the opposite. I like imperfect art.
Bruno V. Roels is represented by FIFTY ONE Gallery (Belgium).