The Shame of the Sun - PhMuseum

The Shame of the Sun

Sébastien Van Malleghem

2018 - Ongoing

United States

The United States of America are currently going through an unprecedented crisis with the election of Donald Trump, global warming and social (racism and violence) crisis, national and international tensions. The new administration is taking an active step in ruining wildlife and its national Eco-system looking for short term benefits, multinational welfare, destroying first care help and national support for its citizens.

This project (already started in May 2018) aims at focusing on the interactions between American citizens and the local wildlife through their actions to help them to survive. The Shame of the Sun also focuses on the daily life of the middle-class citizen to see, interrogate and analyze their way of life, and their impact on nature and how American society is currently being modified in order to generate more money. As a photographer, I started the first part of this long term story in Florida. Florida is the state that posses the most guns by citizens. One of the states that have the poorest farmers, seeing every day new buildings and structures build on national reserves land destroying the current ecosystem that took hundreds of years to flourish. Florida also authorizes the Americans to own and buy any type of wild animals as pets. The owners, tired of their Panthers, bears, tigers etc either release them in nature or give them to animals shelters (that are not supported by the government and only built by locals to save them). If the animals are released in nature, they get shot when found because they are used to the humans and therefore do not escape when facing them the government says.

A second journey has been made to California last November (2018) to cover the aftermath of one of the biggest and deadliest natural disaster and wildfires that the state has known in its history. Woolsey fire and fire Camp have destroyed many lives, neighborhoods, the entire city of Paradise, and a huge ecosystem. These fire are due to the climate change, less humidity in the area creating mass dryness, and electric cables going over all the state. This last part of the work shows what's left of humanity after these types of events occur. This is only a glimpse of what could happen to us if we don't act now.

Meanwhile, the President Trump blamed the forest management.

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  • A wild alligator swims in an artificial pond at a Wildlife Reception Center. The Florida native alligators are very often face to face with humans in the parks or gardens of these. This is due to the constant real estate pressure that applies to Everglades lands and invaded the territory of wild animals. The American authorities advocate killing animals, or if citizens want, they can pick them up at their expense, to bring them to centers run by volunteers. Volunteers raise funds to support wild animals. Captured animals can not be released into the wild because they would have been "accommodated" to humans, and therefore represent a potential danger .... Florida, June 2018

  • A house in the middle of the Everglades territory in Florida. Given the price of land and building in Florida, the poorest citizens are sidelined. The cheapest land is in the wilderness, and these areas are therefore "eaten" little by little by real estate that deals with a social class impoverished constantly pushed back in precariously . They live out of sight, isolated with reduced access to hospitals and education. Florida, June 2018

  • In a bar, a local citizen explains to me that she no longer tolerates the use of the Spanish language, and that no one speaks "American" in her village near Homestead anymore and that she would like that all other communities complies with the American constitution. I then received a free beer, accompanied by a flyer promoting certain US amendments. In particular the right to carry a weapon, to defend one's property, that the national language was American ... etc. Florida, June 2018

  • A billboard smashed by a hurricane. The latter probably had to report "Believe in our community" but I was touched by what was left of it and would almost say
    "Live in community". At the time of the rise of white-friendly extremism / populism and its supremacy (Trump), Florida has for a most part become recluse and racist, rejecting most of the Cuban, Hispanic community that has settled in this country. A state close to the Caribbean and Cuba. Florida, June 2018.

  • Victim of its "success and its sun" Florida is called "The Sunshine state" but also "The Gun Shine state" due to the fact that a lot of citizens own weapons. Most locals have at least one, two, for some it's a small armory. In Florida a low-end Shotgun costs $ 50. The incessant killings that take place in this state do not change anything. Americans believe hard in protecting their property, self-defense and a possible invasion of "foreigners" .... Florida, June 2018

  • Florida remains a large, flat state, covered by "farm lands" and what remains of the Everglades. Outside Miami, it is rare to find a lot of life in the streets of the state. So I was posting myself on a large shopping mall parking in the south. There, next to one of the largest chains of stores "One dollar tree" were everything costs 1 dollar maximum, I saw dozens of people getting in. These people explained to me that they were going this store because it was cheaper and that their "food-vouchers" received from their employer or the state did not allow them to go to other stores . At One Dollar Tree we find food presented next to creams for warts, clothes, and other toys for children. Then a young man quite high popped with his bike and started to rap. Telling me that he would get rich one day. I see there an actual version of the American dream. Florida, June 2018

  • Miami's Wynwood neighborhood was recommended to me when I was in South Florida. This district was for many years, a poor neighborhood and did not interest many people. The mayor therefore decided to leave the walls to the youth and to the creation thus authorizing the graffiti and other urban works. In just a few years, the neighborhood has become one of the most prized in Miami. Wynwood is gentrified, with kids doing selfies, and a community of stranded people trying to survive in the middle of it. Florida June 2018

  • A Florida Panther in a shelter for wild animals. In Florida it is possible to buy any animal as a pet. All you need is a "license" that costs about $ 50, and then you buy the animal of your choice. So many lions, bears, panthers, etc. are found in homes and gardens of citizens. Once the animal becomes too cumbersome, some owners release them into the wild (creating a major and internal change in the local flora and fauna, and a potential danger), kill them, or deposit them in the centers managed by volunteers. Florida June 2018

  • Parking of a shopping center. Here in the outskirts of Homestead the youth is bored. And do not necessarily want to travel. She can not afford it, and even if she could afford it she might go to NY. I quote: "What good is seeing the world, we have everything we want in America". Florida, June 2018

  • Shooting underwater, surrounded by alligators. I sought to approach these reptiles considered as "scary" or as "monsters" by locals, in order to understand them. If our behavior is not aggressive, or frightened, the alligator does not attack the human. Neither do they attack each other, and live in community without creating a problem. Reptiles and other wildlife are aggressive only when they are hungry or in danger. In general, all wild animals flee the Man, whom they consider a predator.

  • After a day of heavy rain, Woolsey fire was almost contained. I could enter the city in the morning; The mist was heavy, and it was almost raining black water due to heavy amount of hashes in the air. Paradise, November 2018.

  • Woolsey fire was still active, but mostly contained to the mountains were firemen and women were still fighting it. Inside the city nobody was allowed. Everything was destroyed. Paradise, California, November 2018

  • Shops and malls were closed as fast as possible. People fled almost in the last minute seeing the extremely fast progress of the flames. Woolsey fire was still active, but mostly contained to the mountains were firemen and women were still fighting it. Inside the city nobody was allowed. Everything was destroyed. Paradise, California, November 2018

  • View of a burned house / mansion on the top of the valley; in Paradise City. every hill, forest and house was burned. It was like walking in a cold fire. Nothing survived. Except some chimneys. Paradise, California, November 2018

  • As I was walking through the entire burned neighbourhoods the only people I would see would be cops and rescue teams searching in the ashes. Paradise, California, November 2018

  • Rescue team member searching for rest of humans bodies and missing people inside the ashes of the houses. Paradise, California, November 2018

  • Shops and malls were closed as fast as possible. People fled almost in the last minute seeing the extremely fast progress of the flames. Woolsey fire was still active, but mostly contained to the mountains were firemen and women were still fighting it. Inside the city nobody was allowed. Everything was destroyed. Paradise, California, November 2018

  • Portrait of a rescue team member searching for rest of humans bodies and missing people inside the ashes of the houses. Paradise, California, November 2018

  • Rest of a burned school, the American flag has been tapped on the ashes supposedly done by the rescue teams and policemen. Rescue team member searching for rest of humans bodies and missing people inside the ashes of the houses. Paradise, California, November 2018


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