Federico Busonero

Reefs are dying

Forests are dying 

We are dying

Diseases have stolen our time

What am I doing here?

What am I looking at?

I want to return to the land, 

To the forest

To the sea

And stay there

Among the trees and the corals I love.

They ask me 

Why are we dying?

Are we a photograph?

The photograph you made of us

Years ago,

A short long while ago.

Your books are our epitaph, our effige, our memory

Take them with you

Into the forest


So that we can look at them 

To remember who we were

There in our depths 

Now those depths are our graveyard.

F.B. 2020


In the years 1990-1995, I conducted an extensive photographic research of the coral reefs of Fiji. The study was published in 1996 as a book, Fiji The Uncharted Sea, by the European Union and the Government of Fiji. The 153 photographs show the dreamlike beauty of the coral reefs of Fiji, their diversity, their fragile life.  

Today, the conservancy of this life, its beauty, is more urgent than ever because coral reefs in the South Pacific, as well as those worldwide, are on the brink of vanishing due to the consequences of climate change.

By its own nature, photography is concerned with the unstated and the unseen: I associate the word carbon, an element which is non-visible, with the luxuriant forest and the underwater reef where it has been stored through millennia. For the scientist, the forest and the sea are "carbon sinks". Thus, I wish to remind the viewer that the forest and the sea are not commodities for our use, nor a faraway paradise for tourists, but living organisms which play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of the whole environment we live in. Photographing what exists and what one day may no longer exist - the forest, the sea - is for me a duty, and an act of gratitude.

The underwater images have been selected from the study I carried on earlier in Fiji and from other publications, including the portfolio Colour and Form on The Reef and the artist book Permanent Blue Light, a collaboration with painter and poetess Cozette de Charmoy. Other photographs are unpublished. The photographs of the tropical forest were made in 2018-2019 in the northern islands of Fiji. The two chapters Forest and Coral Reef are not separate, but rather they show the subjects in unison, both visually and conceptually: from the forest into the sea, and from the sea into the forest - that continuity of deeply interconnected ecosystems, which manifest themselves with a visual coherence. The mangroves on the line of the horizon (ὁρίζωv - where the gaze ends) suggest that the forest and the sea, here and far beyond, are two intimately interdependent worlds which cannot exist without each other. 

The third chapter Climate Change shows photographs of the altered forest and reef — modifications and consequences due to human intervention, as well as natural factors, including hurricanes, sea level rise, and ocean warming. These images are accompanied by two texts, Carbon, by scientist Giorgio Vacchiano, an expert on carbon and climate change, and Climate Change, by the photographer.

CARBON was presented at OCRA, Montalcino, October 2019.