Over the years, photographer Laurent Ballesta has established himself as one of the most emblematic figures in naturalist and underwater photography. A biologist, he is of course an outstanding diver, experimenting the most extreme conditions of the practice, less out of a taste for danger than to access the mysteries of the depths until then remained inaccessible. Each of his expeditions is a technical challenge to allow him to surpass the physical limits of body and liquid matter a little more at each descent, and to advance even further and longer in the space of the abyss. Explore and bring back original images that combine aesthetic and scientific approach: diving and photography have been intimately linked since his beginnings at the age of 13. His latest adventure led him last summer to stay for 28 days at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. A world first. With Antonin Guilbert, marine biologist, Thibault Rauby, diving instructor, instructor and assistant lighting technician, and Yanick Gentil, camera diver, they achieved the feat of diving four hundred hours, carrying out 31 dives and going down to 142 meters deep!
With his book Planète Méditerranée(Mediterranean Planet), Laurent Ballesta offers a new perspective on the Mediterranean Sea, cradle of our civilization, an epic space that has nourished the imagination of men for thousands of years. His odyssey takes us to the discovery of a meta-terrestrial world, populated by supernatural creatures. A living world whose magic hitherto escaped human sight. Sometimes his photographs seem closer to abstraction, made with transparencies and singular formal structures. Above all, it is the colors that captivate, both those of natural settings and those of certain rare specimens: moments of grace offered by the spectacular beauty of an extraordinary planet, as Laurent Ballesta emphasizes, he who dreamed of being an “oceanaut” and never ceases to hope that “beauty will save the world”.
About Laurent Ballesta:
“Laurent Ballesta is a child of Cousteau. But a child prodigy who, on the legacy of the illustrious man, has to build his own legend. He added a new dimension to the attention we were paying to the ocean, the one that the unparalleled sensitivity of his gaze gives him. A look of scientist and romantic, an eye of artist and expert to which nothing escapes. […] The soul of his work is his innate sense of beauty, harmony and aesthetics. [Il] does not betray or transgress the beauty of nature, he renders it, sublime it sometimes, but above all he makes it accessible and highly respectable. ”
Nicolas Hulot, in the preface to the RSF album dedicated to Laurent Ballesta, published in July 2020.
About Planète Méditerranée expedition:
“When ecology is viewed as a lost cause, exploration and conservation become the noblest of battles. If dreams can still be cherished, then the first step is to peel away the illusions. In looking back at my previous expeditions, I believe that this project is both the boldest and most proximate since it takes place right here in the Mediterranean. As for the technical and sports performance aspects, we’ve broken new ground, and I’m not exaggerating. It’s been 18 years that I’ve been waiting to explore under such conditions.”
On any trip, his vehicle. Towards the stars, a spaceship, towards the abyss, a bathyal ship. The great depths are the distant planets of a nearby galaxy. 100 m, 120 m, 140 m, these distances are derisory and impassable at the same time. This universe is neither near nor far, it is elsewhere. So to reach it is to join a parallel world: Laurent Ballesta and his comrades went very far, without really leaving. They stayed at home in the Mediterranean. And, in the twilight light of still virgin spaces, life can be dazzling. Where few divers venture are oases that seem to resist destruction and extinction. They are the last refuges for all those pushed back from a pressurized coastline. Here are the portraits of these strangers on borrowed time and of these landscapes in danger. More than a new world, it is another planet: the Mediterranean Planet.
Hemeria supports Reforest’Action and acts for reforestation in France and around the world. For every book purchased on http://www.hemeria.com, a tree is planted.
Documentary on ARTE on September 19, 2020 – 8:50 p.m.