Fine Art Photography Project Traces Links to Climate Change in the South of France

Lyrical Dark Nights, South of France: Through the Vineyards

Funded by the French Ministry of culture, I photographed environmental changes near the Pyrenees in the South of France.

Fine Art Photography Project Traces Links to Climate Change in the South of France


French vineyards along the South of France surprisingly have this in common with melting glaciers in remote Greenland and devastating hurricane Sandy damage in Rockaway, Queens: they are also being impacted by climate change, perhaps surprisingly.

Funded by grants from the French Ministry of culture and communication, I will look at environmental changes happening near the Pyrenees in the South of France through my night photographs.

There, I’ll be tracing subtle but noticeable changes occurring to the land, vineyards and estuaries as an Artist-in-Residence at the Château de l’Esparrou Odyssée, a Nineteenth Century historic cultural monument in France located miles from the Spanish border and the Mediterranean.

At the Château, I will photograph in the forests, pathways, vineyards, waterways, and ponds, trying to capture both a haunting, lyrical feeling at night as well as documenting the impact of climate change in the area, which NASA says has reduced the wine grape harvest.

This represents the third stage of my long-term environmentally related photo project, “Until the End of the World,” where I won three grants to capture receding glaciers in Greenland and the changed environment in Rockaway, Queens; I was also a finalist for Marion Fellowship for the Visual and Performing Arts where I planned to photograph along the XL Pipeline.

The fine art project is influenced by French artists including painters Théodore Rousseau and The Barbizon School; the films of François Truffaut and Éric Rohmer; photographs of Eugene Atget and Brassai–and films my father would bring home to play in our family’s darkened basement.  

Working at night requires long exposures ranging from several minutes to an hour or more, making it impossible to see through the camera’s viewfinder. Instead I stand beside the tripod ‘feeling’ the image and intuitively, framing the image in the dark.

But I also want to make a visual representation of an unfolding emotional experience, trying to capture with a lyrical and indescribable quality of mystery found while working at night, twilight and at dawn.

The residency, financial grant and the one person exhibition is supported by the French Ministry of culture and communication. The resulting nighttime photos will be exhibited show nearby in France.


About the Supporting French Organizations: Association des Centre culturel de rencontre and Centre Culturel de Rencontre

The project involves two French government agencies. The Association des Centre culturel de rencontre (ACCR) promotes cultural diversity; the Centre Culturel de Rencontre (CCR) supports many artists, researchers and cultural professionals.

Coordinating and sharing projects within it’s network in Europe, the Association des Centre culturel de rencontre initiates acts as a central place for various joint cultural projects. Each year it puts together thematic programs focused on culture, history, technology and economy trends as ways to connect to audiences, culture and tourism.

ACCR is also a resource center, linking various programs and sharing information, playing an important role in European culture, historic places, tourism, and culture.

The other French group, the Centre Culturel de Rencontre, supports many artists, researchers and cultural professionals coming from countries other than France, including some of these:

  • Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya

  • India, China, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Afghanistan

  • Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru

  • Quebec, Canada

  • Haiti

  • Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo


About the Château de l’Esparrou, France

Château de l’Esparrou was commissioned by Joseph Sauvy, the ancestor of the current owners, and was the was the first building in the Roussillon region by Danish architect Viggo Petersen Dorph. It was completed in 1891. A holiday home and residence for part of the Sauvy family, the castle of Esparrou was at the heart of a vast area of vineyards and woods.

It was home to many artists in the first half of the 20th century, and became over the years a family home, although many artists are welcomed during festivals, such as the Prades Festival.


About the Related Photography Projects and Grants

“Inertia:” Photography Project Funded by American-Scandinavian Foundation Travel Grant

Informed by changing climate and history, the American-Scandinavian Foundation Travel Grant allows me to photograph the haunting beauty of Greenland’s shifting environmental landscape, focusing both on the receding ice sheets as well as the New World departure point of Leif Eriksson, the first European believed to step on North American soil. My interest is to capture a feeling of loss and mystery revealed through the contracting ice, focusing on the parallels between dramatic climate changes and a now-forgotten epic exploration.

“Pipeline:” Interdisciplinary Project Funded by Marion International Fellowship for Visual Arts Finalist

Using changing climate, history, culture and politics “Pipeline,” is a planned collaborative interdisciplinary project using photography, music, fiction writing, and new technology to document the changing landscape of the West impacted by energy development.

The consequence of oil, gas, and coal and it’s transportation in the West is striking, leaving the landscape irrevocably scarred. “Pipeline,” traces these changes. Focusing mostly on the newly approved Keystone XL pipeline, the approach is interdisciplinary; the voice personal and poetic; the photos, music and reading to be presented as salon-type performances in the communities I visit. Inspired by the Chautauqua Institute, I’d like to share ideas and culture with the community, using my journey through the landscape of the West.


“Broad Channel After Hurricane Sandy:” Photography Project Funded by Puffin Foundation Grant

Focused of remnants of Hurricane Sandy and changing environment due to climate change, I photographed the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge at twilight and at night in Queens, New York, with the ultimate goal of being a catalyst for environmental awareness.  Funded by the Puffin Foundation Grant, I created lyrical and poetic landscape photographs which include subtle references to artificial light, capturing the haunting beauty of the place.  The work usually combines both documentary and narrative photographic traditions; the approach is personal and intuitive.


About Steve Giovinco

Steve Giovinco is a fine art photographer who exhibits widely in North America and internationally.  Steve earned an MFA from Yale University, and has been awarded fellowships, grants and numerous artist residencies fellowships, including Yaddo.  

Showing in over 100 group and solo gallery and museum exhibitions with artists such as Jeff Wall, and Martin Parr, Steve’s work has been collected by several institutions, such as Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, and Yale University.  Reviews have been published in Art in America, his work has appeared in the New York Times, in several catalogues and in “Summertime,” a book published by Chronicle Books.


Sample Photographs

Here are some of the the work made at the Château de l’Esparrou.


Lyrical Dark Nights, South of France: Moon Crashing in Sea Lyrical Dark Nights, South of France: Palm, Yellow Sky Lyrical Dark Nights, South of France: Forest Below the ChateauArtist-in-Residence, Rhapsodic Night Landscape Photographs and Exhibition in France, Show

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