Stéphane Dupin

For this landscapes series, called Origins, I wanted to come back to my birth area and explore the notion of identity through different authentic places.

This is a kind of documentary work and a feeling to discover again this deep country with another view. I spent two months, alone, in order to understand this isolated rural area.

Wildness is of course really present, as rough as the local identity. I like to capture empty places, sometimes abandoned. It seems to me relevant to describe an “out of time” environment.

— Stéphane Dupin, Paris, France

Tracy Fish

Chasing the Paper Canoe, published by the Athenaeum Press of Coastal Carolina University, was a collaboration of many individuals, including me.

This body of work was a contemporary photographic journey and historic reimagining of traveler Nathaniel Bishop’s 2,500-mile journey from Montreal, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico through eastern waterways during 1874 and 1875 on a paper canoe.

Chasing the Paper Canoe examined Chapter 11 of Bishop’s journal Voyage of the Paper Canoe, tracing the Waccamaw River in North Carolina down to the Winyah Bay-Charleston area of South Carolina.

While the river and people that Bishop encountered are no longer the same, it is necessary to be conscious of what once existed in order to understand what is there today. In doing so, there is an ability to establish a similar connection that Bishop had created along these river communities during his voyage.

— Tracy Fish, Reno, Nevada

Babis Kougemitros

In the series Unspoken Places I attempt to explore uncharted urban and peri-urban aspects of contemporary reality, with a glimpse that is mainly personal. Thus, the photographic depiction of the Attica landscape is neither objective nor representative. We encounter these landscapes quite often, we even cross them on a daily basis and yet rarely do we observe or take pictures of them. They are neither beautiful, ugly and definitely nor photogenic. They are not destined to be seen, except maybe as a blur through the car window or like a background to our daily routine. These places have no name and reveal no secrets to passers-by, they do not tell their story to “strangers.” These places are not tourist attractions. They owe their existence to human activities or failures; they owe their charm to their deafening silence and contradictions.
They constitute an alternative aspect of my country, the place where I exist.

Babis Kougemitros, Athens, Greece

Alexandra Soldatova

A Witness

In the town of N. there is a main street. After the war linden trees were planted in the holes that remained after projectile explosions and those who died during the bombings were buried in a mass grave. To the right of the grave there is a hill, one can even take it for the burial, however, there used to be an ancient castle here that was blown up 50 years ago to produce bricks for a club construction. Now this club can be found in N.’s downtown.

On New Year’s eve a huge Christmas tree is put just in front of it decorated with a garland. One day, under unclear circumstances, it was cut down at the height of 1.7 meters from the ground. Behind the club, in Stroitelei Street there is a kindergarten “Teremok” with a five-year old boy who got stuck between two trees not long ago.

The town of N. is located 40 kilometers from Minsk, the Belarusian capital. I come here rather often to solve various issues, but even more often – without any specific reason. It is always quiet here and it feels a sort of emptiness. This place is so close in its distance but at the same time so far away in a parallel reality. Everything stands still in a tacit collusion – nature and the space of the town, people and myself.

I am looking for a reason to come here again but whomever I address, I get the same answer, “there is nothing special around.” When noticing me, anyone I meet in this street looks like they want to talk, but the closer we approach each other, the denser the air becomes; this air makes us accomplices, brings us closer, but it does not let us speak the same language.

I do not learn anything new, I learn nothing at all, but I do go on shooting because it is my only shelter, my only excuse to be here, my permission to stare around. The camera seems to present me evidence, but what does it prove? My shots make me a witness. I am a witness of something that did not happen here, in the town of N., of something that remained in the air of my pictures.

— Alexandra Soldatova, Minsk, Belarus

Dede Johnston

In this series, called Crowded Slopes, I explore the tension between man’s attempt to shape the alpine environment and our vulnerability confronted with an inability to control its natural forces.

In contrast with 19th century romantics who were awed by the mysterious power of nature and poignantly aware of man’s relative insignificance, the expanding leisure class of the past century has attempted to tame these forces and create a recreational safety zone.

Ski resorts with easy accessibility, urban density and architecture, snowmaking, piste grooming and avalanche blasting, create an illusion of security. The predictability bordering on absurdity of human behavior is apparent in skiers’ desire to herd together, move as a pack and remain within a comfort zone, avoiding ‘forbidden’ areas.

As a microcosm of human behavior, this highlights man’s urge to socialise, colonise and dominate versus the romantic quest for solitary and contemplative experiences.

—Dede Johnston, London

Giacomo Streliotto

“Observe the street, from time to time,

with some concern for system perhaps.

Apply yourself. Take your time.

Note down the place: the terrace of café near the junction

of Rue de Bac and the Boulevard Saint Germain

the time: seven o’ clock in the evening

the date: 15 May 1973

the weather: set fair

Note down what you can see. Anything worthy of note going on.

Do you know how to see what’s worthy of note?

Is there anything that strikes you?

Nothing strikes you. You don’t know how to see”

— quote from Georges Perec, Species of Spaces and Other Pieces

— Giacomo Streliotto, Padua, Italy

Jason Brown

These photographs are part of an on-going project entitled You Seem To Be Where I Belong.

This is a personal survey of contemporary Canada as I encounter it. Peering around unassuming corners and down quiet roads, these images present an unexpected view on how our sometimes out-of-date and sometimes out-of-place occupation of the Canadian landscape connects and brings us together as a society.

Having grown up in a small town in Northern Ontario, these images recall memories of my childhood, when the ideology of the landscape and built environment was not always based on something new, well-designed, or planned.

In this work I am investigating the notions of place, identity and memory in Canada, through representations of human presence and activity in disparate geographic locations and built environments. Through these images I am attempting to uncover the ways in which our relationships to our environments define who we are both individually, and as a society.

At its essence, this body of work is a reflection on the Canadian landscape and small town life – laying bare a country that is in one light authentic and charming, and in another troubled and enigmatic.

– Jason Brown, Toronto, Canada

Sergio Figliolia

The focus in Outskirts is on the outskirts of Rome and its new districts. They are so similar to each other. So different from what foreigners think of Rome. There are new residential areas with almost no public services, growing next to huge shopping malls. Desolate corners. Temporary limitations. Improvised dumps.

The lights of the lampposts are almost the only incarnation of public services. The glow in the middle of the frame, a modern comet, tries somehow to capture the attention of people passing by only by chance. It is in this case an epiphany of nothing. A safe area instead, for those living in these districts — the only perimeter of light before slipping into the darkness.

These are also the boundary areas where the fight between humans and nature goes on. After every victory, every human conquest, a flag would be put up to state that victory.

The light of the lampposts is the constant and ubiquitous flag of human civilization. This way the area is, by means of the lamppost, marked as safe, cleared, colonized, gained for human usage.

— Sergio Figliolia, Rome, Italy

Paul Harrison & Jim Denham

A Changed Land

When the Nottinghamshire Coalfield in central England reached highest production output there were 30 collieries in operation. Coal production at Gedling Colliery began in 1902 and continued until 1991. Over 70 million tons of coal was mined and at its most productive in 1924 there were more than 3884 men working there. 130 miners died on site.

Photographing over a five year period Jim Denham and I walked the whole site and in all weather: from bleached-blinding hot summer days to painful-cold blue winter. We continually photographed using both digital and analogue.

Our images are a reaction to and a record of the joining point between the death of industrial coal extraction and the conversion of the landscape to controlled recreation and leisure. We feel lucky to have been in the right place at the right time and to have witnessed a short pause in a changing land.

— Paul Harrison & Jim Denham, Nottingham, England

Oscar Ciutat

Traditional stalls that sell churros, the popular Spanish fried-dough pastry-based snack, may have their days numbered in the city of Barcelona. In 1990, its city council decided to stop granting new licenses for their permanent installation in the public space. The current regulation only allows the transfer of licenses between relatives in the first degree of consanguinity, that is, from parents to children. But, in most cases, they are not interested in taking over the business.

The lack of generational changeover adds up to a drop in sales due to the current economic crisis, putting these businesses at risk. These two factors have forced many owners to finally pull the plug. At the moment, there are only over twenty stalls in the whole city, very few compared to the about 70 that existed 25 years ago. If no legal changes are made, in a few years churro stalls will no longer be a part of Barcelona’s urban landscape.

The Urgell Cantonada Borrell series catalogues the few stalls still open today. The title of the project is a reference to a popular Catalan children’s song that talks about an imaginary churro stall located at the junction of Urgell and Borrell streets in Barcelona, an impossible intersection, as both streets are parallel. The project explores the loss of one’s own childhood emotional landscape on a personal level and the loss of identity of big cities on a more general level.

— Oscar Ciutat, Barcelona, Spain