All over the countryside in North West Leicestershire there are rocks, concrete blocks, tree stumps and piles of earth in lay-bys, property entrances and field gateways. What is going on, or, more precisely, what is being stopped from going on?
I first photographed the reason for the blocks at the same time as the first of the blocks themselves, early one bright Sunday morning at a roundabout near my village, where a small group of travellers had set up camp alongside the road. Part of a lay-by off the roundabout had been cut off with huge rocks from one of the local quarries.
As is the way with these sorts of things, once you notice one example, you see a lot more. So I went out to investigate and found many more around the county. Every field, empty factory, lay-by and dead end bit of roadway was blocked in the same way. I also started to notice a lot of traveller home sites; little bits of land that had been colonised and turned into homesteads. Then I found one homestead that had been completely burnt out. It didn’t look like it was an accident. I realised that this was more than just dealing with a minor inconvenience; that there was a fairly serious issue of a clash of lifestyle and thinking going on; one that may never be resolved. Although I am not religious, it reminded me of a quote from the Christian Bible that I had heard a long time ago: “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”
— Robert Ashby, Swannington, Leicestershire, England
Minsk is the capital of Belarus, population two million. The biggest part of it was built after World War II and was quite carefully planned.
We have here only one small river but there was an idea to create a big recreation zone for city inhabitants. The “green diameter” – a system of artificial lakes and parks, had to cross the city from west to east and form a rest zone. There also were some “worker’s” districts, where people from big factories mainly lived, located on the periphery of Minsk and far from the river. To spread the green zone into these districts a channel, an artificial “river” with a system of ponds and waterfalls from concrete, was created in the middle of the 1970s.
The green diameter had to form a center of communication for the people of Minsk. On the one hand it is like this at the moment. From another, these parks — an architectural and natural monument — became more a place of solitude and runaway, a palace where everybody tries to hide, to stay a little bit alone in nature.
— Alexandra Soldatova, Minsk, Belarus
I use the camera as a means to understand the world around us and to explore spatial environments and encounters. My work usually emerges from a conceptual rule-based frame work and rarely includes people. However, a few years after my grandmother passed away, I spent two weeks at her house in New Hampshire where I had spent my childhood summers just the two of us. During my time there, I thought often about how people shape and define space and how we associate places with people. Looking through projects such as Bruce Davidson’s East 100th Street, Alec Soth’s Niagara, or Chan Chao’s Burma: Something Went Wrong, one can’t help but allow the portraits to influence our impressions of these places. But what happens when the people who give meaning to a place are gone? How do you capture someone whose presence is felt despite being physically absent? Drawing from various metaphors for trees representing family and using the tropes of contemporary portrait photography, I set out to photograph the various trees on her property.
— Alexandra Silverthorne, Washington, DC, USA
These photos are about the loss of identity in the urban landscape. Our built environment shapes our sense of self, our sense of place and our interactions with others. In cities, buildings are the essence of our collective personality; they are the means through which we enter into contact with a place and with the society that expresses itself in that place.
I began taking these images to document the impact of a new generation of mostly undeterred and monotonous development on our social well-being. In Seattle we’ve experienced a huge transformation over the past five years during which older buildings, sometimes our most visible means of uniqueness that signal a particular neighborhood, have been displaced by metal and concrete boxes that at best have no distinction and quite often have no soul. The new construction is fast and efficient, banal and ubiquitous. It provides new and often unwanted meaning to where we live while taking away from our previous context of how and why we came to live where we do.
— Tim Greyhavens, Seattle, Washington, USA
This project, titled Judgment of Minos, is a comment on the bourgeois conception of death.
Fear of pain, fear of death and postmortem punishment, fear of darkness, fear of the unknown and the foreign, and fear of seclusion make people think and act abnormally.
The photographs were taken at various locations on the island of Crete, the land of King Minos. After the death of King Minos, Zeus made him judge of the dead in Hades.
— Lambros Andrianakis, Heraklion, Greece
I make mainly landscape photos of Italy, bearing in mind the style of American new topographers, but not only. I search for some kind of truth. It’s indeed difficult, but surely satisfying. It’s a trip to see Italy as it really is, not just a postcard place. Time after time I capture “situations” to make some kind of “odd atlas” of Italy, showing known cities’s peculiar places and also suburban landscapes.
— Maurizio Callegarin, Adria, Italy
My project Off Season is a photographic pursuit which aims at the discovery of visual appeal in a battered space of a cheap and vulgar seasonality. The place under scrutiny is the infamous tourist resort of Laganas in my native island Zakynthos, Greece, in the period of its absolute abandonment during the winter months.
The place has been “developed” in the recent years — the word “developed” is on overstatement — in an erratic, kitsch and casual way as to be harmonized with the low-class tourist wave that floods the resort during the summer.
In the winter, when the wave withdraws, the natural and built landscape that is being unveiled looks even more depressing and wrecked. And yet on this abandoned and battered place, the discerning and empathetic eye can still uncover some nuggets of vernacular appeal and visual character.
This project reconfirms my belief in the power of photography to make magical even the ugliest and most dreary place.
— Zisis Kardianos, Zakynthos, Greece
Altered Corners is a photographic series consisting of more than 30 photographs. They were all made by me, mostly over the past few months in the area close to where I live in Tulbagh, in the Cape Winelands of South Africa.
My natural impulse to document change and adjustment in my surroundings aside, this series is a note on the exchange between man and nature, sometimes subtle and sometimes extremely clear.
Most of my work is collected on short road trips or exploratory outings on my motorbike, usually to places not easily accessible to everybody. I try to go out on sombre or atmospheric days, because I’m not only intrigued by our connections and relationships with the environment, I also want the photographs to allude to intangible subjects like melancholy, loneliness and introspection.
Unlike some of my other work which often featured people, my relationships with them, and their interaction with each other, I now find myself interested more by the landscape, and our relationship and dialogue with the environment. In future, I wish to express myself more in this way.
— Louis Vorster, Cape Town, South Africa
The Wurmberg is the highest mountain of Lower Saxony in Germany. For 20 years there have been decreasing numbers of tourists. The strategy to respond to this is to install snowmakers and build new ski slopes. Approximately 6,000 trees have been cleared. On the top of the mountain a big mountain lake, which should supply the snowy cannons with water, has been created.
Climate experts foresee that this snowy arrangement can last for a maximum of 10 years, because of climate change it will become too warm for such an arrangement. To be able to use the snow machines you need a temperature of minus 3 degrees Celsius.
The big opening in December 2013 was cancelled, because it was much too hot.
Last year I went several times to the Wurmberg, to see the great nature and what is going on there.
— Birte Hennig, Braunschweig, Germany
In less than a century, man has modified the Sierra Chica de Zonda in San Juan, Argentina and their surroundings. This project, 500 Million, explores those spaces that often chaotically are redefined by human intervention, setting a new landscape and inevitably leaving behind another one — one which had remained untouched for 500 million years.
— Leonardo Ponis, San Juan, Argentina
My photos are about our modern “Man-altered” places in the cities where identifying the traditional line of demarcation between nature and culture has become inconceivable. They are about those uncanny moments when a photographer senses that s(he) is being hunted by a “place,” and instead of escaping from it, s(he) decides to arrest that intimate moment in order to tame it and later consign it into his/her memory.
My photos of our modern urban-ruins allow me to remember those uncanny moments that once took place between me, my camera and the photographed event. By doing so, they assure me that those moments are stored (in my hard drive) and tamed (in my memory), so I can forget them. In short, I can say that these photos are the way I pay tribute to those encounters when my optical unconscious allowed me to sneak into a new territory, a territory that was once a physical place in the city, and now it has become another form of place in my memory.
— Ali Shobeiri, Tehran, Iran
The project analyzes the concept of non-place. Considering the definition provided by the French anthropologist Marc Augé in 1992 as a starting point, the concept is applied to the contemporary landscape, recognizing in particular the seaside town of Bibione, in the province of Venice, as the appropriate area of research for this investigation. Bibione is considered in the sense of large non-place as a place of transition, frequenting by masses in the summer season while suspended and empty during the winter months, to the point of assuming the aspect of a ghost town. The work highlights some of the features identified by Augé about these particular spaces, as their standardization and uniformity, their anonymity, their being untied from the context they physically occupy and their nature of a not-truly-lived environment: these places are seen just temporarily, without a real awareness.
— Lara Bacchiega, Venice, Italy
These past few years I have been photographing the outskirts of Malaga, a city in the south of Europe.
The value of the targeted places doesn’t reside in their attractiveness or their history, but in the fact that they are a reflection of the life of their inhabitants and workers and show the humans’ footprints.
The quality of these peripheral landscapes is the total incapacity to seduce the viewer. As a cause for attraction, the landscapes don’t arouse any satisfactory emotion in the beholder. But, after being photographed, when they acquire the status of object of contemplation, the observer finds out that is just this lack of attractiveness and charm which gives them their peculiar interest and makes them worthy of being photographed.
— Miguel Urbano, Malaga, Spain
A road trip along the Norwegian part of the E10, also known as “Kong Olav Vs Vei” is 397 kilometers. It is one of those places where the human alteration of the landscape is still weak as compared to other European countries, yet ever present.
With the road as a metaphor for journey and experience, I photographed places in which people appear at most marginally as part of the landscape.
Though retaining two distinct series, I decided to mix color and black and white stills to be independent from the specific language.
The E10 is the northernmost European road and connects Luleå in Sweden to Å i Lofoten in Norway. By means of several kilometers of tunnels and bridges the road lets one travel by car to the most remote areas of Lofoten islands without need of ferries. The Lofoten islands are like an extension of the continent by which one can get a privileged view of it. A bit like separating from something to be able to better see it.
— Sergio Figliolia, Rome, Italy
Silent Landscape is a project about landscape as a refuge for recovery and silence in a stressful world, but also about the landscape that is silenced by human influence. The geographical position of the places is subordinate. My starting point has been the fact that Sweden got its first “silent sanctuary” in order to protect the area’s unique sound environment and not allow pollutions caused by noises such as cars, boats, machines, people and so on.
I feel it is important to highlight the everyday landscape, which in one way or another is always linked with time and history and is of great importance to our well-being. Those nearby landscapes are an inalienable part of our lives. We are deeply connected to them. They constitute our external physical environment in which we reflect ourselves and create our internal mental landscapes.
Landscapes are not only monumental beauties of wilderness that enrich our romantic dreams. Landscape is not something that exists only in the distance. The landscape is a reality in each person’s life.
— Jan Töve, Hökerum, Sweden