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Having moved from one church to the next throughout the winter, the “Laudato Si’vue du ciel” photo exhibit by famous photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand now lights up Saint-Apollinaire’s cathedral in Valence, France. Open to the public since July 1, 2021, the exhibit will remain there until September 1, 2021. It is made up of 20 boards showcasing the beauty of nature. These Creation-inspired pictures illustrate Pope Francis’s ecological address of 2015, where he touched upon the matter of safeguarding our “common home”.
Photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand wanted to bring to light Pope Francis’s “revolutionary text” about ecology (Laudato si) through a series of photographs that reflect the beauty and fragility of Creation.
The “Laudato Si” exhibition gives us a new outlook on the world. It invites us to understand the environmental crisis we are currently facing. Though this reality requires personal conviction and small, everyday actions, it also makes us question the more structural changes that need to take place, both in the professional world and in how our society functions.
This exhibition shares a new approach of Pope Francis’s message about preserving the planet through images. Forming a dialogue between the text and the photographer’s pictures, the 20 boards bring to light the beauty of nature and of our “common home”: the Earth. They also show how urgent it is to protect it.
In his address published in 2015, Pope Francis emphasises the fact that the crisis, which is already affecting the poorest populations heavily, demands a transformation in all of us: a deep change in our behaviours and in our lifestyles, as well as a profound overturning of our economic and political logic.
Yann Arthus-Bertrand has been capturing images for over 20 years in some of the most fascinating regions around the world, and in areas under threat. These are places where the degradations have been picking up much speed. This is where the flora and fauna are most endangered.
Despite being a non-believer, he shares several values with the Christian faith: compassion, sharing, respect for a nature that was given to us and that we have no right to own.
According to the photographer, the next revolution will be a spiritual one. Climate change is indeed completely beyond us and it is perhaps through spirituality that we may realise we are not eternal beings and that our “common home” is worth protecting because our children will inherit it. It is also worth noting that Yann Arthus-Bertrand will donate the proceeds from the exhibition to a humanitarian NGO in Congo.
As the Pope reminds us at the beginning of his address: “Laudato si, mi Signore” – “Praised be You, my Lord”, Francis of Assisi would sing. Through this canticle, he tells us that our “common home” is like a sister with whom we live, and like a mother who welcomes us and cares for us: “Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth, who sustains us and governs us and who produces varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.” (Canticle of the Creatures).
An environmental commitment has become unavoidable if we wish to save the nature. It must become a common concern. Pope Francis also stated: “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.”
The Yann Arthus-Bertrand exhibition showcases breath-taking sights from the air. These pictures act as a wake-up call as to the critical situation our Earth is now facing. It is time for us to open our eyes wide and to understand that sustainability is no fad, that it is a matter of survival.
And, as Yann Arthus-Bertrand stated himself: “Sustainable development cannot be limited to the personal territory of the immediate environment, it is international by nature. All these years, I have received wonderful images as gifts. Today, my photos should only be used for one thing: to help this awareness.”