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Helene Schmitz: Studies in Falling

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    Helene Schmitz, The Atlantic, 2023

Across Europe, the sea is encroaching on nearly a fifth of the coastline, eating away landfills, stripping sand from beaches, and threatening coastal communities with rising sea levels and erosion. For Studies in Falling, Helene Schmitz travelled along the Danish coast and photographed locations where limestone exists in the bedrock, as well as the structures and places where limestone, or calcium carbonate, is transformed into cement.

Schmitz studies the circularity that occurs where the limestone that makes up the cliffs along parts of the Danish coast is ground down and transformed into cement. The process contributes significant amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Rising sea levels necessitate protection against the encroachment of the sea and the crumbling land, which is rapidly eroding and being engulfed by the ocean at an accelerating pace. Seawalls, artificial islands, and concrete blocks are being built worldwide to shield humanity from the threat posed by sea intrusion. Thus, the circle is complete.

Along the crumbling coast of western Jutland, concrete bunkers from the 1940s gradually fall into the sea. Over time, they have detached from the slopes; they are in a falling motion, and due to erosion, the Atlantic is slowly swallowing them.

Often, the most beautiful places are also the ones most susceptible to large-scale exploitation and extraction. Schmitz visited Møns Klint, an island in South eastern Demark. The ongoing erosion at Møns Klint is a natural process, but due to rising sea levels, heavy rainfall, and storms that have increased in intensity over the past decades, the process is accelerating. Just a few kilometres away lies the Faxe limestone quarry. The pure white stone, created by corals and aquatic organisms, is broken down into cement and building materials.

Limestone, like crude oil, is compressed remnants of time and life. They carry with them stories of life forms but also of time that, from a human perspective, approach infinity.

Museum24:Portal - 2024.06.11
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