Mountains are a reoccurring subject throughout art history. On Medieval paintings they serve mainly as backdrops for portraits. The mountain leaves the background in Romanticism. Artists sometimes elevate it to the main theme of their painting. They depict unspoiled nature that transcends man. One of the most famous paintings is undoubtedly Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer(1818) by Caspar David Friedrich. The mountain serves here as a panoramic point from which man can muse melancholic. And although the mountain comes to the fore, Nature forms a passive scenery on which man projects their desires and thoughts.
In Moving Mountains van Aarle explicitly distance himself of this anthropocentric approach. The mountain is no longer part of the backdrop or a passive object, but an active entity that moves itself. This movement is visible through the colours. Although the light is a constant parameter, the rotation of the planet makes it possible to register the change in light. The colours thus mark the movement of the mountain. Van Aarle occupies countless positions, but just as much the mountain occupies countless positions relative to the camera.
Moving Mountains not only depicts the movement of the mountain through time and space, but also shows us how the hard boundary between man and environment seems to become more unbelievable today. Van Aarle has a specific interest in erosion, deterioration and wear. In short, in separate processes that undermine the myth of the static whole (the mountain). Here the photographer is no longer someone who frames or freezes a piece of reality. The reality is in flux in these images. With Moving Mountains van Aarle questions the relationship between the static photographic object and these natural dynamic processes.
Text by Bob Vanden Broeck
© Bastiaan Van Aarle, Serie Moving Mountains