When Strength Rhymes With Fragility

Not going far away, Diego Drudi takes us on a journey out of scale, inviting us to contemplate the coexistence of power and vulnerability in about everything.

In his series “So strong so fragile”, Italian photographer Diego Drudi reveals the ambiguity of human science. It might lead to vertiginous knowledge and renewed progress; it still can’t control ever-changing time and space. What remains is the fragility – that of nature confronted to the inexhaustible need of humans to control it, and that of humans inexorably defeated in their attempt.

His language borrows from documentary and conceptual. With the first one, he captures nature – the diamond so strong it can’t break; domesticated nature, trapped under a glass cage, shaped with alleyways and guardrails. The storm rips open the sky, and in the process evokes the most destructive natural and man-made elements – a volcano and a nuclear explosion. His images capture the incredible strength and adaptability of nature. A picture shows the wall of a cave, taking on a variety of colours at the contact of water. Nature doesn’t die, it evolves. On a scale far beyond humans.

With a photograph of marbles suspended within a black space like planet in the solar system, Drudi emphasizes the scale Earth evolves in – eons. “In this historical period when everything seems to drastically change”, he writes of the origin of his project. Scientists say this period may be irreversible and lead to another mass extinction, including that of humans. Yet, Drudi hints at another reality, that of the universe itself.

Along with these subtle and fascinating demonstrations of power stand the human responses – a telecommunication tower, a gigantic structure of metal piercing a dense fog. No matter whether nature prevents us from seeing, these sculptural construction enables people to get to each other, to see each other. No matter how vast the universe is, scientists, build rockets that travel further and further away. It echoes one of the sci-fi writers, Liu Cixin’s novels, when a scientist declares, “the inexhaustible exploration of the origin of matter gives us divine power. It's something we would never have dared to dream of.”

Yet, the people he portrays appear melancholic, slightly lost. Looking at another photograph, of what seems to be a round of light grass set in the middle of a darker field, one can’t help but think of spirals and how they are related to ancient religions and neopaganism. As if our sole remedy was spirituality when faced with excess and immeasurable. “The images, both in colour and monochrome, express an approach tied to a feeling, scenes that blend to contemplate the complexity that surrounds us”, Drudi concludes.


All photos © Diego Drudi, from the series So strong so fragile.


Diego Drudi is a member of LUZ photo and contributes reportages for national and international magazines. More recently, he has been involved in long-term projects that question the relationship between man and nature. Follow him on IG and PhMuseum.

Laurence Cornet is a writer and curator based in Paris focusing on cultural and environmental issues. She is also the editorial director of Dysturb and the international photo editor at Le Monde.


This article is part of our feature series Photo Kernel, which aims to give space to the best contemporary practitioners in our community. The word Kernel means the core, centre, or essence of an object, but it also refers to image processing.

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