Eye-opening photography that documents the damaging scars we inflict on our environment
There’s no beating around the bush with Joe Habben’s astonishing ongoing photographic series, ‘In Moleca’. It documents and explores the events and effects of the ‘Acqua Alta’ (high-water) in the city of Venice, Italy. “The tidal activity in the Venetian lagoon is a natural occurrence, however, in recent decades the severity and frequency of high tides have rapidly increased due to human intervention and global warming”, Joe continues, “this project aims to question how cities like Venice can harmonise this interdependent relationship and adapt to the age of the Anthropocene in an increasingly globalised world”.
On the 12th of November 2019, Joe documented Venice in stark contrast to the city that is known for its grandeur and beauty – a character that draws in flocks of tourists year upon year. Mass-tourism, in fact, results in the reality that Joe captures. “One of the locals I spoke to mentioned that they’d been asked on multiple occasions where the ‘exit’ was to Venice or what time it ‘closed’, with some people likening it to a theme park. Cruise ships pose a great threat, with around 600 entering the lagoon annually. It’s estimated that 1 cruise ship pumps the equivalent of 1 million cars worth of emissions into the water and air in a single day”, he tells us. The poignant series reveals a shocking truth, one that perhaps many do not know. Well, now it’s staring you straight in the face and, you can’t shy away.
“Despite all this, the resilience and strength of the Venetian locals is admirable. Seeing these communities pulling together to adapt to these circumstances whilst maintaining morale in opposition to what is happening to their city is incredible”, Joe opens up. Documenting our realities and truths innately interests Joe, as he tells us, “in recent years my work has become much more socially and politically motivated which I think is a natural response to our current climate”. Behind the scenes, Joe’s process is thoughtful and meticulous. “Before I shoot a photograph or decide to include one in a series, I research and question everything behind it; how it can be interpreted, what it is that I’m trying to communicate and how it corresponds with the other images in order to make a narrative”, he reveals. Joe tells us, he’s recently read an interesting article by Owen Jones that questions why don’t we treat the climate crisis with the same urgency as the coronavirus? “This current situation has proved that the world is capable of cutting carbon emissions and has the power to decelerate global warming if necessary”, Joe adds.
Joe was born and raised in Brighton but, is now based in Glasgow, Scotland. He’s currently finishing his final year of studies on the BA communication design course specialising in photography at Glasgow School of Art. Looking to the near future, Joe plans to develop the project, as he tells us, “I feel I’m only just beginning to scratch the surface with it. I’m really interested in meeting with more locals and the activist groups that I’ve discovered so far. Rather than just documenting the issues, I’d like to document more of what is being done in order to challenge and oppose them”. Joe’s work is highly impressive and we’re incredibly keen to see where he goes next – watch this space.