The setting for the 36th "Cal" is the landscape of Botswana, where last May famed photographer Peter Beard spent ten days immortalizing seven internationally renowned models. Beard, who lived in Kenya for thirty years, is one of the world's greatest interpreters of the mystery and charm of Africa.
After last year's China edition, where Patrick Demarchelier artfully juxtaposed the atmospheres of ancient tea houses with the modernity of China's metropolises, the Pirelli Calendar moves to one of the few places in Africa that remain wild and unspoiled, free of the ravages of war and with the highest concentration of wildlife.
Peter Beard has chosen an authentic and ancestral land that is born of the interpenetration of two different worlds: the aquatic oasis of the Okavango River delta and the arid expanse of the Kalahari Desert. A place that has been spared both the exploitation of the land and the impoverishment of its resources, the ideal setting for the photographer's representation of nature as a metaphysical entity, always in motion, source of infinite creativity, within whose rhythms and laws everything must begin and end.
A nature described as powerful yet at the same time wounded, with an harmonic view of the environment that draws on the spirit of 19th-century American naturalism. Through Beard's lens, nature unleashes an angry cry and rebels against humanity's incapacity to combine growth and development with wisdom and respect for diversity. It is in this context that elephants, the real protagonists of this edition of the Cal, struggle to survive, relegated as they are to ever shrinking areas. Elephants as metaphor of the human race, and Africa as metaphor of a devastated world that must recover its lost harmony.
Beard grants no privilege to humans, for he believes that we, just like animals, must respect nature's balance. He imagines for all of us the bitter fate of living in an environment rendered ever more inhospitable by myopic, uncontrolled development, where the quality of life progressively declines and must come to terms with the rebellion of an offended nature.
The only hope is beauty. Beard believes that the key to saving humankind lies in a constant quest for truth and beauty. Beard's women are portrayed as generators of life, the source of all things, whose grace remains fully intact. They are depicted as creatures born of nature's womb, heroic, full of strength, with decisive features and powerful movements; statues, symbols of nature's creativity and ability to regenerate itself. "Only beauty can save the world" is the message of the new Pirelli Calendar, in the spirit of Fyodor Dostoevsky.
The seven models are: Daria Werbowy of Canada, Emanuela de Paula and Isabeli Fontana (who debuted in Demarchelier's 2005 Calendar) from Brazil, Lara Stone and Rianne Ten Haken from Holland, Malgosia Bela of Poland and Italy's own Mariacarla Boscono (who first appeared in the 2003 edition by Bruce Weber and again in Nick Knight's 2004 Calendar).
The final result is a calendar/diary that Peter Beard describes as "a living sculpture". The 56 plates of the new Cal are a rich collage of images, quotations, observations by the artist on the environment, climate change and global warming, overpopulation and the depletion of natural resources. "My real concern," says the photographer, "is the destruction of nature on a global scale. We've totally lost track of what evolution is based on, and how important diversity is in nature. This concept is the very foundation of survival."
Throughout the shooting and production of the Calendar, a number of measures were taken to minimize its environmental impact. In keeping with Peter Beard's message, the Pirelli Calendar and the gala presentation of the 2009 edition will be Zero Impact®. Pirelli, in cooperation with a LifeGate initiative, will contribute to the creation and protection of a forested area in Costa Rica capable of absorbing the same quantity of CO2 emissions generated by the production and printing of the Calendar and by the presentation gala. Additionally, the Calendar will be printed on natural, lead-free paper.
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