I have always been fascinated by the Renaissance paintings of the ideal city. Order, geometry, light: the main characteristics of these paintings. With A Neutral Place I want to rebuild my ideal city, and I tried to bring together all the places I visited in an imaginary and unique city. The same perspective and geometry, the same light and order, even if the cities are many, all different. I then made a series of photographs analyzing the urban spaces to isolate what interested my research, eliminating any element of disturbance, isolating the scene from the context of the modern city, seeking order in the chaos.
It is not therefore a documentation, but a reconstruction through conscious choices. In this way, those who look at my photographs are in a unique city, real but at the same time imaginary and invisible. Basically the purpose of art is to make the invisible visible.
— Franco Sortini, Salerno, Italy
My art practice engages with our culture’s relationship (or lack thereof) with the natural world. This relationship is a complex one—we need it, we revere it, we protect it, and we also destroy it. But above all, we have separated ourselves from the natural world. In my work, I explore how these barriers and desires manifest themselves in our lives and our society.
Over the past few years, one way I have been exploring these relationships is by creating and photographing miniature landscapes using fake fur as the land substrate. The resulting series of large scale photographs, titled O Pioneer, hearken back to the pioneering Western photographers of the late 1800s, in a tongue-in-cheek manner. These photographers, such as William Henry Jackson and Carleton Watkins, surveyed the West in North America and brought back stunning imagery of splendor and bounty. Their images helped propel the problematic narrative of Manifest Destiny. Much of my imagery is directly borrowed from these historical photographs, while some simply reference the genre. The resulting series of photographs are clearly a simulation, a farce, with the fake fur as a reference to the lure of potential bounty as well as the resulting devastation.
— Areca Roe, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
This Must Be the Place is a critical and curious response to being submerged in a new culture, an attempt to find my place in new surroundings. Recently having moved to Boston, I was struck by the obvious differences between my homeland of Greece and the U.S.
Exploring the area that I now call home, walking around the neighborhood and the diverse cityscapes, I turn my attention to matters overlooked to me, fragments of working class suburbia that would seem normal to Americans but seem odd through my eyes, like empty driveways and cluttered backyards.
Through these images I address longing: I’m looking in, peeking out to the other side, dreaming of the possible future. There is always an element that leads you in; a hope that dreams will be fulfilled, that stability will prevail, that this sense of loneliness and seclusion will fade away.
— Yorgos Efthymiadis, Somerville, Massachusetts, USA
This project concentrates on photography at night. I try to capture a unique atmosphere at the moment. The purpose of my project is a story about loneliness at night, out in the big city. For this purpose, I used only light and darkness.
I was inspired by the places which aroused my curiosity during travel at night. These places are borders of the city, found by spontaneously getting lost on the road. The images were created in the period 2014-2016.
In my project I used the weather conditions which existed at the time of taking the photographs. The long exposure technique is very specific. The pictures are created as unquotable. They are impossible to replicate.
— Pablo Charnas, Wadowice, Poland
Ephemeral Landscape is focused on the reservoir created when the Lindoso dam was built, in which the waters reached farming fields and villages in both Portuguese and Spanish territory.
The word “ephemeral” embraces everything that is transient or of short duration. There are in nature ephemeral creatures whose existence lasts only a day. It was also nature that revealed the banks of the Lima River once forgotten, revealing the memories drowned under the cold and dark waters — that through photography became infinite and then disappeared again.
What caused this event was the extreme and unprecedented drought that took place in the Iberian Peninsula in the year 2017. Some say that it was the result of a one-off event, others show a certain concern. Be that as it may, there has been a manifestation of the climate changing that causes transformations in the landscape, shortening distances between countries and referring us to a global problem that knows no borders.
Spanish and Portuguese riverbanks appear side by side and witness the resurgence of this landscape with no sky, only with the dark blue of the water and the dry white of the banks of the river.
— João Pedro Machado, Portugal
This ongoing series, titled La Loire and started in 2009, documents the linear territory along the riverside in my hometown and tries to show the conflicting relationships between Nantes and its river.
Nantes was formed along La Loire. The port has long been the main reason for the development of the city. (The triangular slave trade made its fortune until the 18th century). The port was enlivened by the loading and unloading of ships and by shipyards until the 1980’s. Now, boats with drafts ever deeper have to dock at St. Nazaire, downstream.
Nantes was called the Venice of the West because of the amount of river arms and islands, but in the early 20th century, many Loire arms were filled to make way for cars and traffic.
Today, the areas along La Loire do not have the function for which they were built. They have become residual spaces — although they are the heart of the city. The purpose of my series is to depict these linear altered territories and to reveal the atmosphere afforded by water. Sometimes ghosts of the past fly up the stream.
— Benoît Chailleux, Nantes, France
Clean Rooms, Low Rates is a collaborative, cross-genre exploration of the American motel. In 2011 and 2012 I hitchhiked, drove and walked 22,000 miles back and forth across the USA, photographing, among other things, empty motel rooms.
Each of the images in the series was taken after a day of driving, sometimes 10 to 12 hours worth. They always felt like some strange continuation of the journey, rather than a rest stop. There was this sense of perpetual motion in the space. I would lie there in the dark and could feel the road still stretching out before me. It was a bit like when you get off a boat and the land seems to sway for a while, I could always feel this sense of moving forward and beyond, so the images never really felt like interiors. They were landscapes — a continuation of the open road.
Standing at the intersection of economics, aesthetics, poetry, documentation, and fiction, Clean Rooms, Low Rates explores an alienated and anti-domestic landscape, full of oddities and banalities, shedding light on the problematic character of seemingly ordinary things. By playfully and collaboratively immersing ourselves in a private-turned-public space, especially one as aesthetically charged and culturally specific as a motel room, we allow ourselves to experience and examine the myth of the American dream. Inspired by the history of motels in some of the greatest stories of all time, writer Jeff Parker provided fictional texts to go with a selection of these photographs.
— Brendan Barry, Devon, United Kingdom
Two years after a neighbor clearcut a portion of the forest my wife and I live in, a fierce windstorm roared across the open clearcut and ripped apart, uprooted and toppled 120 of our trees. A few of them hit our house.
Foresters call it a catastrophic windthrow.
After repairing our home and re-planting our land, I began to photograph the tree farms that surround us. There are three distinct phases, beginning with the clearcut. Next is the burn phase where limbs are piled high and burned in the fall. In late winter and early spring new seedlings are planted.
In forty years, when the Douglas firs just begin to feel like a forest, they are felled and the cycle begins again.
From certain vistas all three phases can be viewed in a rolling mosaic of industrial efficiency and productivity.
— David Paul Bayles, Corvallis, Oregon, USA
My work investigates the landscape of Southern California and the American Southwest through a variety of perspectives and for a variety of reasons.
These images are from an ongoing series called Terraform. Inspired by Percy Shelley’s sonnet “Ozymandias” and a personal interest in Roman history, the photos in this series offer more contemporary depictions of mankind’s relentless hubris and evidence of nature fighting against it.
While we are capable of altering the landscape in long-lasting and unforgivable ways – either for practical or esthetic reasons – the land is always in a state of change, and inevitably reclaims the evidence of our tampering.
— Chris Bashaw, Los Angeles, California
In the Borders series I want to show the role of plants on the boundary zone. The plants and the image of the forest interest me for two reason: first, to see plants as an alternative “monument” celebrating the quiet but incredible power they have on those places out of human control.
My second interest is to suggest a sense of disorientation due to the cut and the dimensions of my images. I want to represent the disorientation that we have on these kind of areas: a sense of not belonging, a sense of being somewhere we’re not suppose to be and suggesting a possible exit from “our places” so a possible sense of lost and fear.
The image of the woods has always been connected to introspection, unknown and mysteriousness. My Borders series wants to be just outside this woods. We’re still on the borders and here we can’t actually understand who is coming in and who is coming out. We can’t understand who is hosting and who is invading.
— Cocis Ferrari, Turin, Italy