These photographs are taken in locations that were used as IRA training camps during the 1970’s. There is a political and emotional ambivalence to what at first seem to be natural landscapes as they exist today, but which have fragments and traces hidden beneath the visible surface, disappearing from the landmark yet still flowing through the collective memory — surviving on a latent, unseen level somewhere between stasis and change… between wanting to remember and trying to forget.
This work looks at how a political situation can fuse with a physical landscape and asks to what depth it can tell us about past and present human experience. In doing so it reveals aspects of the social and political context of Northern Ireland, of intimacy and unease and of the highest and lowest peaks in the spectrum of human experience. It asks how an external environment can affect inner states of consciousness and how history can manifest and conceal itself within a place.
This project is an attempt to express and explore how feelings and personal experience can be communicated, to emotionally identify with my father and to connect on a different level. The work addresses identity, memory and place and asks how history is handed down from generation to generation, contrasting the “objective truth” of the photograph with the oral tradition of story telling — times and places become merged together with fragments of truth and multiple truths existing in one situation.
— Paddy Kelly, Belfast, Ireland
Leisure is a collective work realized by two photographers: Maxime Delvaux and Kevin Laloux.
Leisure is defined by the activity that we do outside the time taken by our usual occupations. It is the activities that we choose to do. Those are of all nature: cultural, sporting, recreational, etc. The idea of this work is to analyze the means used to practice those activities as well as the people involved in them. First of all, in a formal way, through the architecture of these places devoted to leisure and the sites in which they are established.
This work tends to translate into images the infrastructures and architectures developed by a state or a region, to promote a territory and to make a site attractive in a touristic or recreational way. This project is also about public and private places allowing the practice of a leisure activity. What importance does the city leave them, and how are they implanted in the urban landscape?
Further than this formal approach, it is interesting to analyze the use made of these places by people, and the way in which they make those places alive and their own. Photographing these people — in this particular context they have chosen to live — allows us to capture in them something real and personal.
— Maxime Delvaux & Kevin Laloux, Brussels, Belgium
My photographs explore synthetic elements that signify a human presence on the land.
The starting point for my research is the assertion that the landscape art developed from the 17th Century is a construct that quickly became established as the dominant method of experiencing nature. When this aesthetic is combined with the apparent realism of photography it both informs and reveals our attitudes to the environment. Mainstream landscape photography that often relies on the picturesque offers a dangerous vision of a timeless environment unaffected by people.
The featured picture is from the series Mega Structure — a collection of curious utilitarian buildings found in often quite picturesque locations around England. The purpose of these buildings is not always immediately apparent. Small in scale, and with little or no architectural merit, they simply seem to exist, and go largely unnoticed. Despite this they are very much a part of the landscape that we experience rather than some picturesque idyll.
— Huw Nicholls, Brighton, United Kingdom
This project surveys the material presence of empty billboards and considers their capacity to comment on the environments that surround them.
For the last few years I have taken notice of and been actively searching for very clean, very white billboards, the kind that seem to present nothing but their own monumental physicality. Without the company of an advertisement to distract us, each billboard becomes an ambiguous fixture within the built environment, possibly indicative of economic and social collapse, but equally reminiscent of the potential dramas available to movie screens and unpainted canvases.
Above all, the project continues to serve as a visual response to the bewilderment in and confrontation of an object’s recovered material reality. It is only through the manifest blankness of each billboard that we encounter it — and possibly for the first time — as a physical object cast into landscapes of arguably equal emptiness.
— Sherwin Rivera Tibayan, Norman, Oklahoma, USA
When I first came to the United States five years ago, my first impression was that everything in America is bigger, such as big trucks and huge shopping centers. Slowly, during the course of the five years, I realized that there is a link between “big” and abundant resources. As if “big” is the consequence of excessive needs, and excessive needs are supported and encouraged by abundant resources. China is also big in a lot of ways, but we still sell pencils in ones instead of dozens.
I decided to photograph the abandoned. My work represents “big” in an indirect way. In a society with abundant resources, we easily lose ourselves in materialistic items when there are too many choices or too frequent updates. We are no longer satisfied with getting the things that we need, but are rather obsessed with getting better and newer things; we are trapped in the process of updating instead of enjoying what we have in our hands. In an era when the speed of the aging of an object can no longer catch up with the speed of our boredom with the object, abandonment seems to be the only way out for this object.
— QiYuan Li, Pasadena, California, USA
Shiftless is a two-year photographic work in the places around the unused nuclear plant of Garigliano in Italy, which takes its name from the important river running along before going all the way to the sea. Closed for maintenance in 1982, the plant doesn’t show on maps because it turned out to be “unauthorized,” since it was built on agricultural land.
Now it contains 3,000 cubic meters of nuclear waste inside concrete blocks, some of them stacked underground in plastic bags. The nuclear presence is in everything, in the empty houses, in the vegetation, in the carcasses lying in the fields, in the water and in those barely-visible human life efforts.
The atmosphere is of a nuclearized, deserted place, witness of a past which, as invisible as the plant, lingers in the present. Staring at the broken caravan windows, the withered palms, the swinging neon lights from the knocked down walls, gives you a sense of inertia, of shiftlessness.
A beautiful land full of potential, victim of man’s carelessness. The river gets into the sea, the waves retracting show on the shore an impressive mass of wastes of various kinds. They are symbols that “nature always gives back what it received.”
— Raffaele Capasso & Francesco Claudio Cipolletta, Naples, Italy
Our conception of wilderness, and its history, may seem, at first read beyond the purview of social constructs. We take nature and wilderness to be absolute givens, the opposite of society and civilization, existing out there beyond the many systems and constructs we’ve become hyper-aware of through post-modern philosophy. On the contrary, our relationship to, and definition of nature isn’t natural. Rather, it is the product of centuries of institutional influence.
Early Christian texts often used wilderness as a metaphor for evil. Through generations of translation what was originally a word for deserts (the Hebrew Midbar – a place without speech) became replaced by a word that suggests forests (Wildeorness – where the wild deer live). This slippage of language, coupled with the transformation of the psychological into the physical spelt the doom of many a sylvan ecosystem.
In the American South the mythology of pastoral place is still the predominate model, imbued with a palpably biblical flair. These photographs emanate from charged spaces, scenes of collisions – where wilderness is flowing back, where historical metaphors interface with economic realities, and where the paradoxes of our relationship to nature are ultimately exposed.
— Jimmy Fike, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
The contemporary landscape is detailed and intricate. It is divided into segments that are separately owned and diversely maintained. Through photography I am exploring these unique subsections that form this complex environment. I am observing and recording these characteristics to better understand the makeup of my surroundings.
I am interested in learning why particular locations are given such special attention. I am focusing on variations of land, which reveal an individual’s personal reflection of, and relationship to the environment. Their interconnection is conveyed through directly manipulating and placing objects within the landscape. Often, the attempt is to emulate an ideal natural world.
I am especially drawn to interactions that are distinct and whimsical. I view these spaces as types of sub-landscapes, which when assembled depict an eccentric man-made world. These images are my contemplation of artificial environments whose quirky intricacies describe the formation of the modern landscape.
— Daniel George, Savannah, Georgia, USA
This body of work, titled Evidence, examines the use of artificial light in our culture and how the use of this light reveals and conceals the landscape around us. The suburban and urban use of artificial light to eradicate darkness in public spaces impacts the manner in which we view the land, as well as the way in which we experience it. We, as a nation, are largely afraid of these spaces once night falls and they become abandoned. We recall horror stories; we are afraid to be alone. I photograph the spaces in order to bring them new life, and to bring attention to the fear and caution we experience around both lit and unlit urban spaces.
Working with a 4×5 camera allows me the flexibility of artistic choice, while still retaining a specificity and believability that other tools lack. This camera also allows me to spend an extraordinary amount of time with the spaces, teasing out their individuality and choosing what information to reveal and conceal within the space. Through these photographs, and this time spent, I want to help these spaces breathe again and help people rethink their relationship with the night.
— Sarah Pollman, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
My photographic work is on the Berlin-Brandenburg area, colloquially called “The Mark”. This mainly rural area is defined by unique socioeconomic transitions, set into motion with the reunification of Germany in 1989. This work is the documentation of atrophy
areas; landscapes of deceleration, molded by both structural alteration and the so called “luxury of emptiness”.
Exploring the region by bicycle, my perception is influenced by relatively slow locomotion. My photography follows a descriptive, documentary-style approach. The images are of moments, the quotidian details of sociocultural, economic and environmental shifts, stagnation and neglect.
As perception is inevitably a subjective, transformational process, it is the relationship between the discipline of documentary aspirations and my inescapable individual interpretation that informs my work.
— Rainer Sioda, Berlin, Germany