In the morning mist, light shines through the water particles, dispersing the spectrum of light throughout the atmosphere. Within this strange, ubiquitous light, Misha de Ridder sets up his 4 x 5 camera atop a cliff in Normandy in the town of Ault, looking down upon a vast seascape where a harbor and parts of Ault once flourished in the sixteen hundreds before a storm washed them away. The cliffs that de Ridder both photographs and stands upon are in constant collapse, losing about a meter each year to the sea, whose tides rise and fall, slowly consuming the cliffside. De Ridder ventures into this environment, setting up his large format camera on the top and at the base of the cliff, photographing in the short four hours before the Atlantic rises and covers the tide pools beneath him.
Within this seascape, the feeling of interconnectedness with the enormity of one’s natural surroundings arises in the depth and enigma of the image. The chalk of the cliff face leaves a whiteness on the surface of the water, which echoes the horizon beyond. The experience of looking into de Ridder’s seascapes and cliff faces involves the perception only acquired through intimate and lengthened looking, the kind of perception that de Ridder describes as “the cutting edge where you and reality meet.”
Caught on one of de Ridder’s last slides of Kodak’s E100G film, which was discontinued in 2012, the film captures the colors in “the camera’s own reality,” as de Ridder describes it. The present photographs are direct translations of the slide with no intermediary changes, so that the photographs of these spaces directly capture the colors of reality. Although the colors reflect reality, de Ridder hopes to capture the essence of a space, which in this moment meant waiting an hour for the seagulls to fly away and out of the composition of Ault III.
Misha de Ridder’s work engages with the experience of beauty through the enormity yet soft vulnerability of the waves and chalky cliffside. Expressed in this ubiquitous light and mediated through the water and air, the eyes and mind drift further and further into the image, visually engaging with the continually transforming environment where the cliffside and sea meet in Ault.
Misha de Ridder’s Ault III, currently on display in REFERENCE, is the first work to be featured in ROSEGALLERY’s Spotlight Series.
Written by Zoe Lemelson.