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After five days of crossing, land in sight. Covered with a cap of cloud, the Eastern Island (Crozet archipelago) appears. Declared an “integral protection zone”, it is forbidden to man (except for rare scientific surveys) and faces the Ile de la Possession, where the Alfred-Faure scientific base is located.

A voyage to the southern lands

Biodiversity makes life on Earth possible, but it is very often under threat. The Yves Rocher Foundation cares deeply about taking action for nature, so it is launching an ambitious photographic mission between now and 2024. The aim is to uncover the truth, sound the alarm, mobilise and bear witness, through the photographer's lens, to the fragility of those sanctuaries which still enable nature to escape the wounds inflicted by human activity. The first mission is heading to the French Southern and Antarctic Lands with photographer Mélanie Wenger...

Travelling to the heart of France’s greatest sanctuary

Do you know which is the largest glacier in France? Forget Chamonix – it’s in Kerguelen. As for the world’s biggest cliff, it’s in Crozet. Discovered 250 years ago this year, the territory is made up of two archipelagos – Kerguelen and Crozet – and the two islands of Saint-Paul and Amsterdam, making it one of the jewels of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.

Although they are little known among the public (and even less taught in geography classes), these lands are our country’s largest nature reserve and will soon be the largest protected marine area in the world, covering more than 1.6 million km2. These islands and their unique ecosystems are located in the southern Indian Ocean, in the famous Roaring Forties. Some of the largest colonies of royal penguins, elephant seals, eared seals and wandering albatrosses have taken up residence there, and some of the world’s best scientists travel over to study the exceptional biodiversity on show, supported by the French Polar Institute Paul-Emile Victor (IPEV).

Mélanie Wenger: adventuring in frozen lands

The Yves Rocher Foundation entrusted this mission in the Southern Lands to the French documentary photographer Mélanie Wenger. Mélanie – who co-founded the Inland Collective and won the HSBC Photography Prize 2017 – was one of 200 French photographers selected for the Ministry of Culture’s photography commission led by the BNF. She is passionate about the curious world of wildlife and conservation.

From the black sandy beach of Possession Island’s “American Bay” in Crozet to the gigantic colony of royal penguins on Cape Ratmanoff in Kerguelen and the steep cliffs of Entrecasteaux on Amsterdam Island, Mélanie’s photographs take us on an exceptional expedition to rediscover this string of French islands at the edge of the world.

 “I came back from this expedition with the image of France’s largest glacier, which has lost more than 40% of its ice in the last twenty years, standing in profound silence. It has left me with an indelible memory of these remote regions during a time of rapid and inevitable change.” – Mélanie Wenger

Stopping off at La Gacilly Photo Festival

You can check out this journey to the edge of the Antarctic Convergence from 1 June to 30 September 2022 at the La Gacilly Photo Festival. There, you can view Mélanie Wenger’s photography exhibition. The theme of this year’s festival – Visions of the East – offers photographic perspectives, multiple visions and cross-cutting viewpoints on the environmental and societal challenges facing our planet. This new work promises its audience some beautiful artistic discoveries.

Who is Mélanie Wenger? What is sound background? Learn more about her here.

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