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Union Square Park, Gramercy


“Ecology is more than just a preoccupation with nature: It is a new form of humanism.” –Yann Arthus-Bertrand


Despite all the warnings, despite the pollution and the catastrophes, there is so much left to see! Sure, the forests of the Amazon and Indonesia are disappearing far too quickly. But there are still many magnificent places left to discover. We often hear Yann repeat these words: “It is too late to be pessimistic!”


In addition, forests of stone, concrete, and steel—cities such as Paris, Venice or New York—are subjects this artist turned activist cherishes (he has recently published a new edition of his book


New York From The Air). He isn’t, like too many other environmentalists, opposed to humanity. He knows that it is necessary to deal with even the darkest side of humanity. Pollution can appear beautiful—even if it is a horrifying beauty.


To speak of beauty is to speak from the heart, to stir up emotions—it isn’t a coincidence that the word comes from the Latin word for motion, movement. The fervent élan of the artist joins that of the activist: Today, everyone is aware that the planet is faced with a problem. One must only turn on the television or look on the Internet to know more about the subject – Fukushima, the tar sands in Canada, overfishing, climate change… but often people don’t want to know, and they don’t want to change their lifestyle.


No longer is information the most important issue; it’s enthusiasm, or the desire to act. But beauty stirs in us the desire to improve. Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s work taps into the age-old wisdom reminding us that beauty has always possessed an ethical value: It inspires us to be our best.


14 | OriginMagazine.com


His talent as a photographer and his unique approach to the world of ecology explain his extraordinary success. His book The Earth from Above has sold more than 3.5 million copies around the world. He has organized major exhibitions, always free to the public, all over the world, seen by several million people. His first film, a full-length environmental documentary entitled HOME, screened for free worldwide and has been seen by more than 400 million people in more than 100 countries.


These and other remarkable actions earned Yann Arthus-Bertrand the title of first Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). He pursues his commitment to the environment through the foundation he founded and presides over, called GoodPlanet. This passionate group of individuals produces numerous multifaceted projects, focusing on subjects from education to environmental awareness, from development aid to action against climate change, and is responsible for creating and carrying out a comprehensive sociology initiative, called 6 Billion Others. This video installation project, which has toured the world—from the Grand Palais in Paris (2009) to the World Expo in Shanghai (2010), to the Sao Paulo Museum of Art in Brazil— gathers testimony from thousands of individuals representing diverse peoples—from a Russian grandmother to a young Tokyoite, from a family of Australian bushmen to a Berlin geek—and paints a colorful portrait of humanity. It asks the same intimate questions to 6,000 interviewees in 100 countries: What message would you like to pass along to your children? What is your first memory? With these stories, the film constructs an ode to humanity, in all its diversity and magnificence.


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