The photographs in Posts and Poles in Contemporary Landscapes are showing a reality impossible to forget and to not see, an invading presence in the urban landscape as much as in the rural landscape, stuck there in the ground, vertical more or less: the post or the pole.
Anyone with a camera, one day or another, has been frustrated by its annoying presence in his viewfinder; like a scar in the middle of a field, in front of a building or in the background behind someone. Here, instead of trying to remove it, I have used its presence to be part of the image, to create the landscape around it.
– Carol Dallaire, Jonquière, Québec, Canada
National parks are massive tourist attractions: spectacular nature and wildlife living side by side with cars, roads, signs, parking lots, RVs, gift shops, cafeterias, campsites and cabins.
It is the tentative relationship between nature and the affect of humanity that commands my attention when visiting a national park.
These three photographs from my Park Views portfolio and all my photographs are presented totally as seen with no digital manipulation or photo assemblage.
I hope the joy I felt in making these photographs and the absolute love and affection I have for the national parks comes through and whoever sees these pictures delights in them.
– Alan Kupchick, Santa Monica, California, USA
Connected is part of a larger project that seeks to examine our current detachment from the rural landscape and the industrialisation of food production. It also touches upon our visual disruption of the land and our perception of the rural environment and its conservation.
The area photographed has been the subject of planning for some 10,000 homes since 1998. I have no doubt that due to the housing crisis in the UK these homes will be constructed, and only recently the leader of the opposition referred to this parcel of land directly and confirmed his commitment to construction.
The temporal nature of this area is what initially inspired the work, but as it progressed three different themes emerged. The photographs presented explore the concept of being connected, both in metaphor and actuality. The profusion of overhead power lines and other structures evident in these images, at first appeared an eyesore. As I contemplated my surroundings, I became aware that their presence provided an unexpected form of visual continuity.
– Steve Meyler, Stevenage, United Kingdom
In these pictures there isn’t any human presence, but it can be seen in the belongings in the windows.
I wanted to show my urban sensibility related with my sociology studies, and also wanted to (re)ask this question: How do we humans live?
This urban sensibility is related to geometry and pattern repetitions, so it seems that the chaos has an apparent order. Does it really? I think the answer is no. Besides that, the cities are distressing and oppressing. There is no sky, there is no ground. There are many histories behind each window, behind each picture, but in the cities the distance prevents us from seeing it.
These images were taken in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay.
– Martin Volman, Buenos Aires, Argentina
I have always romanticized the European landscape. The books of my childhood were often set a world away, in forests of oak and birch. My forays into the environment around me were guided by these stories, influencing the plants and animals that captured my imagination. Whereas my interest in native flora and fauna was mostly scientific, I found creatures such as foxes and deer almost mythical and the woodlands of Europe fantastical.
This nostalgia for the English countryside also accompanied the colonial settlement of South East Australia and shaped its widespread transformation — the most important result of which was the introduction of a plethora of exotic species. The Australian landscape is an introduced one. Human influence on our environment runs deep. By acknowledging our involvement, we can better come to understand our place in the natural world.
– Murray Watson, Canberra, Australia
When I first traveled to Dubai I witnessed a city growing uncontrollably out of the desert. Construction sites lined with busses packed full of workers dotted the landscape in every direction. New buildings appeared by the hour. Roads detoured endlessly to make way for man-made lakes and islands. Hundreds of transmission towers suppling power to the metropolis’ increasing energy consumption appeared in the barren areas surrounding the city. I returned a few years later to a much different place. The economic collapse left an unfinished city stuck in the desert. I went throughout the city with a 4×5 camera to photograph the urban landscape that currently occupies a massive expanse of land. Development in many areas has slowed down considerably or even stopped completely, awaiting the funds necessary to complete projects. Buildings remain empty without any occupants in the city core. Pre-built neighborhoods devoid of residents resemble ghost towns. Outlying areas already master planned give the appearance of mirages in the distance. This apparent stagnation clashes with the expectations of the past and the realizations of the future. It’s a transitional period in a city without boundaries. I titled the project Unfinished City.
– Ryan Debolski, Detroit, Michigan, USA
Man’s relationship with the alpine environment continues to provide the principal theme to this ongoing body of work, titled The New Wilderness. But unlike Crowded Slopes, in which I look more at man’s need to control and dominate, here I am focussed on our ultimate insignificance and vulnerability in the face of the natural world. In this way, I am more directly inspired by the Romantic tradition through examination of that which remains of the experience of silence and solitude, feelings that are implicit in large areas of empty space, and our small human presence in the mystical of the landscape.
Unlike the work of the German Romantics and American 19th-century artists and writers however, these images seek to document more contemporary concerns for the environment and the traces we leave.
– Dede Johnston, London
Two of these pictures were taken in the North of France during a residency in 2010. The one with the carpets was taken in Sicily.
At first I wondered how to take pictures in a northern country, as I was used to travel around Mediterranean countries, with their familiar landscapes and light. But I realized that I was ready to receive any landscape and any people who have an affinity to my sense of watching the world.
The pictoriality of the images, the intense light, the colors and the frame were possible anywhere. So I feel free now to realize photographic works all around the world. The staged photography I used to organize has changed. Now I prefer to let events happen in front of me. Architectures, bodies, nature and animals all create a poetic universe expressing my desire to show the fact that everything is in construction and destruction every day. And people organize these sites in a very high level of theatrical manner. I’m interested in the way it all appears.
– Florence Chevallier, Paris, France
Fifty years ago this strip of land in southern France — flanked by the Mediterranean Sea on one side and a vast lagoon on the other — was barren and wild. In 1962 the population of the main town, Port Barcares, was 775. Today it is approximately 4,000 – climbing to 80,000 during the peak of summer.
The Mission Racine, a project initiated by President General de Gaulle in 1963, aimed to turn the Languedoc-Roussillon coastline into a series of resorts and offer an alternative source of income for the region.The original vision behind the project was ahead of its time and featured ambitious and unusual urban planning. At the centre of the design was a unique and ambitious plan to permanently ground a cruise liner, La Lydia, and convert it into a hotel.
Although some of the promise of the original vision has lost its shine and the modern architecture now appears dated, the central values, particularly the idea of offering affordable summer holidays for the average citizen, remain key to how the area is managed.
– Shane Lynam, Dublin, Ireland
At Passages, a dream set in the United States, investigates the pre-conscious human relationship to the landscape, as well as the evolution of the Romantic sublime, now a memory, transformed beyond recognition. Investigating the tension between the collective memory of the terrifying Romantic sublime, the sense of possibility in late 19th-century landscape photography, and the displaced sublime of America today, the work looks at those passages between the observer and the landscape-subject that open new sanctuaries, that stand in opposition to our previous ones. In exploring the balance between memory and the reconfigured sublime — the dialectic between the residual landscape of memory and the actual landscape — At Passages interrogates American mythologies of landscape, and conceives new pathways, with reimagined sacred spaces. In this crisis period of human history, our relationship with the landscape is at a crossroads which traverses the social, cultural, and political. Therefore, the work strives to portray landscape in an atypical way, with invented stories, new myths, about America in the 21st century. Through those reinvented mythologies and exposed idiosyncrasies, the work invites dialogue about the environments, the landscapes, that surround us. At Passages explores nature’s becoming, our society’s transformation of it, its passage from a relatively pristine state of apprehension into a more complex and problematic one.
– Sarah Palmer, Brooklyn, New York, USA
I believe there is latent beauty in the concept of suburbia. It is how we’ve nurtured the proliferation of suburban sprawl and what that says about our national character, that I have looked at in my work. When I started American Palimpsests in 2003, the residential development industry was expanding at record speed. This growth was essentially erasing the natural habitat: green grass was being planted over dry desert soil, earth was being excavated to make way for artificial lakes, and housing tracts were wiping away acres of wilderness. Simultaneously, once-vibrant, established neighborhoods were being left forsaken. I saw this rapid change as defining the “American Palimpsest”: throughout the United States’ history, Americans have repeatedly rewritten the land to create an idealized notion of nature and habitat.
Many of the new communities I photographed for this project emptied amid the first bust of the new millennium, leaving behind incomplete developments and heavily altered landscapes. American Palimpsests | This Was What There Was is a photographic reckoning of several cycles of growth and contraction that reflect the American way of life.
– Stacy Arezou Mehrfar, Sydney, Australia
When I photograph a landscape the idea of a silent drama, with a scenery and a plot inspires me. Apparently it’s an orderly and soothing world in which elapses an ephemeral outcome of colour and light, but in fact this world breaks down, founders after a fire or any other kind of catastrophe.
I dislike giving details of the location of my photographs. Many of them, as if I could enter the scene at any moment, are my home and shelter of my dreams.
JM Ramírez-Suassi, Majorca, Spain
In times when nothing seems to have been created to last and it is the ephemeral reason of things that prevails, our transfiguration toward a disposable world is recognized as a congenital illness.
We live mesmerized by an entertainment society that in a systematic, insensitive manner creates, exhausts, and discards. Under the inflexible, dominant pressure of a culture of immediacy, it subjects its own product to terminal corrosion.
Beyond the rigidity of the conceptual apparatus and ideological assumptions, the civilization of entertainment is cruel. It has no memory. It lives stuck to novelty, no matter which, as long as it moves on.
This vertiginous production rate leads nowhere but to an accelerated obsolescence of its mechanisms. Thus, film settings — apparently enormous and grandiose — suffer the depraved parody of their own fleetingness. Settings condemned by their own staging.
A mere instrument for fantasy, when a setting becomes repetitive in the collective imagination, the same industry that created it sentences it to destruction. If not physically, by discrediting it with neglect.
It is these containing spaces with no content that frame this series. Photographs that capture these spaces now condemned to become even more contrived theme parks, by-products of a tourism industry that long ago became disfigured into another entertainment society’s tentacle.
Thus, hordes of visitors searching to devirtualize something that was previously constructed in their pictorial imaginary will dictate the epilogue for spaces recorded herein.
– José Luis De La Parra, Madrid, Spain
The city of Perugia is experiencing a time of great change and dislocation of the road or redefinition of its nerve centers. The construction of the Minimetrò started and ended with the ambition to carry most of the traffic directed to the parking lot to the acropolis of Pian di Massiano. It has changed significantly an innovative urban landscape of an important part of the city, starting with the redefinition the map of the areas most important to the city life. The new hospital Santa Maria della Misericordia has replaced the old hospital Monteluce — already demolished to make way for a residential and commercial area. Other important urban spaces await conversion projects. Settlements of large retailers are springing up on the edge of the suburbs, expanding more and more towards the neighboring municipalities.
All this ferment invites one to document this change, opposition, juxtaposition and layering of the urban and suburban landscape. The way in which the old town, suburbs, and rural areas are merging, intersecting or engulfing. A great ambition perhaps, but suited to the medium of photography.
Wandering in these places, visually noting landscapes, details that make up the overlapping of architectural details is not necessarily valuable or special. Architectural ambitions, often succeeded in a few decades, can help to describe the life of the city and also to imagine what will be. I do not aspire to a rigorous study of architecture, urban planning or sociology, but simply to convey the feelings, sometimes unusual, which can give the city, seeing and living with a free look from the rush of a hasty step.
Giuseppe Rossi, Perugia, Italy
Traditionally the term “desert” has referenced a place that is deserted, without people, and unpopulated. However, now, more than ever, the idea of an empty landscape is far less accurate. Raised in the Phoenix area, I have developed a personal obsession with and appreciation for these transformative spaces. I firmly believe that while we shape this land, nature continues to co-sculpt alongside us and my works act as reflections on the inherent contemporary symbolism and continually challenged identities found within the Southwest. Intermittently exploring how artifacts provide context to environment, I’m concerned with narratives related to the symmetry in nature and the human experience. While questioning concepts of permanence, I’m consistently attracted to the conscious and unconscious realities of what this desert stage provides.
– William LeGoullon, Phoenix, Arizona, USA