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
The Wisconsin Natural is a portfolio of landscape photographs portraying the beauty and wonder that the great state of Wisconsin holds within its unaltered environment. Conserved in a network of state and nationally owned parks, forests, and lakefronts the state holds a sense of midwestern allure. Unlike the immense landscapes that cover the American West, these photographs portray the appreciation of looking into the rich possibilities of a modest landscape. Between the glacial formed hills and moraines, the mazes of lakes and woods, to the dynamic and ever-changing shorelines of the great lakes the natural beauty of Wisconsin is pure and full of magnificence.
— Maxwell Cozzi, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Milan is a grey city. Essentially, it’s a uniform casting of asphalt and cement. Bringing some colour to its streets is very hard work.
This project, titled Broken Flowers, is dedicated to the many and various flower kiosks spread throughout each neighbourhood of the city. It tells about an impossible challenge, lost already at the beginning, against a hostile environment, and in the good season against heat and sun too, which threaten to burn the flowers. For that reason the flower sellers have, for more than half of the year, to find any possible solution to cover carefully their merchandise through awnings and cloths of any sort, of any pattern and fabric, that they move depending on the sun movement, and the result is the picturesque look of these little “flower cottages.”
They turn out to be completely foreign, seem to have fallen out of the sky and the tents contribute to further their distance from the surrounding area. Similar, furthermore, is the state of the ones that, besides flowers, are under those tents. 90% of them are young men from Bangladesh who do not speak Italian and manage hardly to understand and to help the nowadays very few clients. For them integration is a mirage simply out of reach, an ideal landing place, last unlucky carriers of one of the activities that will be totally swallowed up by the large retailers.
— Michele Ravasio, Milan, Italy
A photographic collection of places taken from a soap opera in which I play the protagonist role: my life. The photographs are realized following the Rules of Perspective and are not prepared or planned, but “happen” during the movements. From the taproot of this series I have developed site-specific works.
— Fulvio Bortolozzo, Turin, Italy
Working in the shadows is fine. You have the peace of not being exposed and the pressure it entails. But working in the shadows is unappreciated. You do an essential function, or at least an important function, but no one sees you and no one knows your existence, so no one knows your importance.
At the surrounding zones of the city something like that happens. We don’t realise their importance. In fact, we don’t even realise their existence. We pass through these zones in cars, motorcycles, bikes and even by walking. And we do not realise that these limits are what make the way for us to get to the city, make the way for the existence of this city. They nourish the city and through them crosses the things that make a city become a city.
Usually we presume the things and we don’t ask why or how it was. It’s normal, today more and more — the “modern” life is faster, impulsive and direct. There’s no time for reflection, the decisions are here and now. The “now” rules. So we go to our things, fast and without looking around.
No One’s Land pretends the opposite. It pretends to stop, take a break, look around and reflect. Mainly about the city limits, about these territories that are in a no man’s land, about what defines them and about their importance for the citizens in a city.
But you can’t try to understand them from inside your car. You must walk through them, listen to their sounds, smell their scents, see what things are arranged in them. And the first thing you realise is that, although they are part of the city, they are completely different from the city itself. They are still, almost changeless and it seems that there isn’t much to do in them. They are the perfect and necessary opposition to any city and they cannot exist without each other.
And what do I do? I observe, I listen and I document it all. But without indicating a way of thinking. Just documenting it in a neutral way. I think it’s the better way to give these zones a voice and the chance of being seen and understood.
— Ricardo Dominguez Alcaraz, Valencia, Spain
Everyday Aspects and Genius Loci
River landscapes (Maas – Waal)
Since my childhood I have been fascinated by the landscapes of the great Dutch rivers. On beautiful summer days we sometimes went to the riverside to cool down. In winter we went watching high water and in spring we now and then made a trip along the blooming orchards. Later on I visited the remnants of the brick industry along the rivers. These mostly rural or suburban landscapes are man-made environments with a strong impact of nearness of the river.
Nature in these areas is most of the time nature made by and controlled by man. As a matter of fact most of the diverse Dutch landscapes are the result of centuries of intervention by humans. The common point of view of governmental and environmental organizations is that to maintain our characteristic landscapes, management is required. Regarding the river landscapes, it should be added that the security of many people depends on careful management of the river waters. For example, one makes more room for the river by digging trenches and by removing vegetation.
In my images I focus on the signs and traces of human presence. You might say the landscape of the Netherlands is some sort of palimpsest of human actions. In this way it tells me often more about human culture than for example straight forward portraits of people can do. Landscape in my pictures is almost entirely the result of human behavior and intervention.Traces of technology, of industrial and agricultural activities tell me about the use and exploitation of the land. All kind of buildings, materials used, roads, canals, more or less disturbed or cultivated vegetation allow me to see how we have changed, and how we are still changing our surroundings. I explore these gradual and rapid changes in my photographs, sometimes by taking again and again pictures of the same subject and place, just like in my series Four Seasons.
Mood and genius loci
I am usually not very interested in capturing the reality of the landscape in an objective way; as a mere document of human actions. The light and weather conditions are clearly very important to me. I have an enormous fascination for light effects. Carefully I try to choose the weather and time of the day (preferably at twilight) to take my photographs. Sunny weather with nice blue skies are seldom seen in my recent pictures; I am far more fascinated by the gloom that comes with nightfall. In addition many times at dusk silence descends on the landscape. The silence at the end of a working day contributes greatly to the atmosphere of a location.
My emphasis on the importance of having particular light and weather conditions is just because of my interest in the experience of a location; I often spend much time on one particular location and I return frequently in different seasons when I feel a special bond with a place. With experiencing a location I mean feeling the distinctive atmosphere or emotion that a location evokes: the genius loci, the ‘spirit of the place’. To me the genius loci is an very meaningful aspect of the landscapes where I wander around with my camera. In capturing the landscape the omnipresent sky is an important means to strengthen the expression of mood of a landscape.
Another reason why I chose to render a distinct sky in my images, is that the skies for me convey a feeling of transience and impermanence of all human enterprises.
I am always very interested in the history of a location or landscape; I read as much as I can about it and try to imagine how people before our times used and changed the landscape. In my opinion the skies — although highly variable and changeable — are the timeless elements in the photographic image. Never the same but substantially not changed since ancient times, thus being eternal in contrast with the volatile earthly things.
— Thieu Riemen, Tilburg, The Netherlands
The downtown Jersey City area is booming and natural landscapes are becoming harder and harder to find. Tall skyscrapers, office buildings, and coops are popping up all around us, along with the infrastructure that must accommodate our growing population.
Searching for Natural Landscapes is composed of photographs taken in four different locations: Mill Creek by the Jersey City Marina, two different spots under the New Jersey Turnpike Extension (Exit 14c), and the area behind Harismus Cemetery. Having lived many years in a small village on the northern coast of Israel, my need to go out in search of quiet intimate spaces for solitude and reflection were becoming more and more vital for my sanity and healthy living. Leaving the paved streets and sidewalks was the only way to find these sacred spots. While photographing, I was especially taken by Mother Nature and her ability to encompass and engulf the old and unused railroad tracks, tunnels, and bridges, turning these areas once more into sacred spaces.
— Leona Strassberg Steiner, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA