Roelant Meijer

RoelantMeijer.nl

Morningwalks

An important theme for me is to visualize a walk, or more precisely the feeling of a walk. This can be a stroll on a sunny afternoon or a walk of several days or even weeks. I have a preoccupation with empty zones like plains. It is there that you really have to take a close look at the details in order to see some differences in the landscape.

For three years almost every morning I made a walk in the forest close to my home — as a contrast to travels far away where I seek adventure and the extraordinary.

In this case the repetition of every day the same forest sharpened my eyes to the small changes of day to day. The forest turned out to be full of surprises. A rain trail dried up, branches like broken wings after the storm on the path or that one ray of sunlight that warms up a tree. The forest is a living entity and occasionally shows its wrinkles. Signs that are sometimes caused by weather, sometimes by man, evoke questions, challenge my imagination and make me wonder.

— Roelant Meijer, Utrecht, Netherlands

Aleksander Wasilewski

36klatek.pl

The Rawa is a 19.6-km-long river flowing through centers of the main cities of Upper Silesia in Poland: Ruda Śląska, Świętochłowice, Chorzów, and Katowice.

The rapid development of heavy industry and urbanization at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries caused its natural sources to disappear. From then on it was mainly fed with sewage from nearby mines and steel mills and with municipal sewage from growing cities. As a result, some cities have decided to route the river to an underground collector.

These photographs present the landscape of post-industrial cities, on the one hand, degraded by heavy industry, but at the same time slowly recovering thanks to the services sector and new technologies.
 
— Aleksander Wasilewski, Upper Silesia, Poland

John Walz

JohnWalzPhoto.com

I generally put restrictions on my work: each project is limited by the rules of that project. For the entirety of one project I generally try to limit myself to one film format. Film to me seems more like a discipline that demands respect. For a long time, I shot my professional work on film, then at some point I started to shoot a mix of digital and film. Still, my personal work was always on film.

Last summer I did an Instagram thing with a gallery. I was expected to shoot and post a picture every day for a week — a picture that gave viewers a sense of place, of where I live. I entertained the notion of shooting film, but to shoot, develop and scan every day in addition to my other daily responsibilities just seemed impossible.

So, a few weeks before the project started, I started shooting digital landscapes and putting no restrictions on the work. I just made pictures that I thought gave a sense of place and were fun to look at. I enjoyed working like that and have continued. These pictures are the result of that endeavor.

— John Walz, Waterville, Ohio, USA

Blazej Marczak

BMarczak.com

I am interested in observing changes in the constantly-evolving cities and documenting those aspects which might change its purpose, form, meaning or become no more than a memory.

I am curious how we interact, use and shape our surroundings and how the surroundings are shaped for us. When photographing the city I am looking for manifestations of socio-economic forces, which shaped the built environment I am currently documenting.

I moved to Ottawa from Aberdeen, Scotland in 2016 and as previously I am using photography to discover, understand and document my new home. Since my arrival from Scotland I try to decode the new reality I am surrounded by and learn its semiotics.

The range of topics that I regard as noteworthy is broad and eclectic and winter is one of them. I am continuing to document this season not for its so-called picturesque quality but for its transformative force and ability to repurpose the landscape.

Harsh and snowy winter is inseparable from life in Canada but global warming might change that so I want to have a record of the current state. I am not looking for the sublime as the 19-century Romantic artist would — however it is interesting to see how bleak can be perceived as such if we forget about the wider context and frankly, thanks to the technological advances, most of us can afford to do so.

Apart from photographing in frigid conditions, I am also working on documentation of Ottawa’s waterways and other aspects of its urban environment with the hope of creating a more comprehensive body of work about this city.

— Blazej Marczak, Ottawa, Canada

Michael Prais

MichaelPrais.me

Painters and photographers of the uninhabited wilderness have used selection and composition as an antidote for perceived disorder and, thus, suggest a place to venture and explore no matter how dangerous. There are wildernesses within civilization created by abandonment and other unintentional acts. These out-of-the-way places have a certain desolation and emptiness. They suggest loss, separation, alienation, failure, and futility. 

Abandonment is a statement of failure of an object, a construction, a creation, to satisfy the needs of the creator or the owner. Each instance of abandonment begs a historical narrative, in a sense, a minor crime drama with motive, method, and opportunity to be discovered or at least pondered. 

I am a visual explorer that is excited by particular, chance arrangements of items left and found together. I seek out these places where structure and disorder — the designed and the not designed — interact.

— Michael Prais, Geneva, Illinois, USA

Timothy Hyde

Jedwabne, Poland. Abandoned Jewish cemetery where in 1941 half the village of 1,400 murdered the other half.

TimothyHyde.com

Neighbors

We humans are social animals, but also tribal. We harbor a capacity to turn on our neighbors with malevolence, often without warning, sometimes with murderous results. This instinct seems not to diminish with the development of complex modern societies; it continues to manifest itself in the form of hate, intolerance, and bloodshed. This capacity seems to reside not far below the surface.

This atavistic flaw in our character takes many forms that I will explore here, including genocide, massacres, lynching, race riots, mass incarceration, and civil war.

I have been thinking about these issues for many years. Recently, I’ve struggled to find a visual vocabulary to explain and describe both the events and the phenomenon. Unavoidably, part of my exploration focuses on these very limitations: limitations of art in general, and photography in particular. How does one convey what happened in these places? This challenge is interesting in itself. Rarely does much physical evidence remain, though monuments and memorials sometimes serve as perverse scars. Mostly this lack of evidence touches on what Elisa Adami calls “Presence of Absence.” We know terrible things happened in these locations from the historical record — there does seem to be a kind of “after presence” — but is difficult to know for sure, and even more difficult to evince. The absence of physical evidence makes these utterly-ordinary locations all the more poignant.

— Timothy Hyde, Alexandria, Virginia

Lowndes County, Georgia. Here in 1918 Mary Turner was tortured and lynched. She was eight months pregnant.
Soccer field near Srebrinca, Bosnia, where 800 Muslim men and boys were executed by their Serb captors.
Phillips County, Arkansas, where the “Elaine Race War” started in October, 1919, resulting in the death of over 240 African-Americans.
Andersonville, Georgia. Site of Confederate prisoner-of-war camp where 13,000 fellow-countrymen died of disease and starvation.

Richard Koenig

Richard Koenig

Contemporary Views Along the First Transcontinental Railroad

While construction of the Pacific Railroad ostensibly began during the Civil War, it was not until that great conflict was over that it really got rolling. In a race for government subsidies and land grants, the Central Pacific built eastward from Sacramento, California, while the Union Pacific built westward from Omaha, Nebraska. The two railroads met at Promontory Summit, just north of Great Salt Lake, Utah Territory, on May 10th 1869. It was a watershed moment.

I follow in the footsteps of photographers Alfred A. Hart and A. J. Russell who expertly recorded the construction of the road. But this is not a re-photography project—it is, rather, photography as archaeology. In making a comprehensive series of photographs along the original route, my goal is to give the viewer as strong of a connection as possible to this 19th century engineering marvel through the remaining visual evidence of the human-altered landscape. And while not visible, I also hope to evoke the various peoples involved with the railroad, as well as those affected by it.

— Richard Koenig,

David Kregenow

DavidKregenow.com

Terrain Vague Berlin

When it comes to radical urban change one must not look as far as Singapore or Beijing. Right in the center of Europe the German capital is — broadly unnoticed — undergoing the final wave of restructuring which will turn the city from a space for inhabitants to the playground of investors, where the quality of life for all becomes a luxury good for those who can afford it.

Open spaces are consequently erased. Existing tenements are demolished to make way for luxury condos and still more shopping malls. This is made possible because the approach of the government is not oriented toward basic needs and long-term developments, but only toward short-range effects where a unified concept of urban lifestyle is consequently misconstructed as urbanity.

— David Kregenow, Berlin, Germany

Max Sher: Palimpsests

MaxSher.com

Max Sher, of Moscow, spends his time as an artist in the back streets and quiet spaces of modern-day Russia. He recently published Palimpsests, his second book.

I had some difficulty with the title, and needed the dictionary, as I’m sure most people would. Merriam-Webster defines a palimpsest as “writing material (such as a parchment or tablet) used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased.” And “something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface.”

In an email exchange, Sher said he wanted to use the term to draw attention to the layers of landscapes: the pre-Soviet, the Soviet, and the contemporary. All exist delightfully jumbled together in his images.

Sher’s pictures are still, but very moving. He rarely includes people, so one’s attention goes to the buildings of various ages, designs and states of repair.

In an image below that shows a small group of people (tellingly, they are in the shadows), Sher contrasts the striking appearance of a tall tower in the distance with a foreground of an aging iron railing, concrete walls covered with graffiti, and a shabby lane that appears to be both a sidewalk and an informal parking area.

Also below is an image that at first glance appears to be of a playground: there’s a big tire filled with sand and a couple of basketball hoops. Then one notices the barbed wire at the top of the walls and it seems more like a prison recreation yard. And this is where the concept of “palimpsest” becomes so helpful: there’s a kind of nightmare in which one thing becomes confused with another beneath its surface: a prison becomes a playground and vice-versa. A sidewalk becomes confused with a parking lot.

Sher included over 100 images in the book. He created an online flip-through of the entire book.

I asked Sher why this project was so important to him (he spent seven years on it). In an email he told me:

“The urge was to create a visual language of my own with a twofold purpose: on the one hand to overcome the heritage of the Soviet Socialist Realism (when photography and other arts were supposed to depict life “how it should be”, and not “how it is”, and that’s why the landscape of the everyday was almost non-existent in, stamped out from the Soviet photography as a viable theme in itself, although it did exist in Russian photography before Socialist Realism took over (in early 1930s); on the other hand, realizing how the post-Soviet area is still mostly depicted outside – as still a very “exotic”, “other”, “weird”, etc place, I wanted to challenge that perception too by focusing on the mundane, not weirdness or exoticism, the latter being rather mental constructions than something that exists here in “real life”.

Sher’s achievement is to show the wild diversity of landscapes in modern-day Russia, and to suggest thereby a confusion in Russian life itself. The value of his book is that the confusion of spaces and lives exists in many other parts of the world.

Larry Torno

LarryTorno.com

This is a selection of photographs from my ongoing series, Life in the Midwest.

It’s interesting to note that although it’s called Life in the Midwest, there is an obvious absence of humankind in these images. That’s because the “life” I am referring to is not humanity, but rather my observations made as I absorb my surroundings.

The locations recorded are important to me as a personal history of where I live, the roads I travel, and the memories I draw from my experiences. Familiarity is a common theme in my life, however unfamiliarity is the catalyst that leads to unexpected images.

The camera is my tool by which I reinterpret these newly found landscapes. It helps me see things more as I imagined them rather than as they actually appear. I recall the ambient sights, sounds, and temperature of each setting and work hard to translate my senses into visual memories.

Life in the Midwest is an ongoing exploration that helps define who I am.

— Larry Torno, University City, Missouri, USA