Fundamental to human life, for millennia we have sought out salt. A search for the familiar daily grain in the vast expanses of the salt mountain, pan, lake and vein. Equipped with a geologist’s toolkit I went out into the field, following well-worn paths, maps, and Google Earth images. Born of the Purest Parents oscillates between the fragmented mineral specimen and the topographic survey. Through closely observed landscape features, scale and alienation are explored within both natural and man-made places.
I work in poetry and photography, the two being close in principles, but ultimately living on two separate tracks. My influences, in both cases, come from post-war modernism: Russian metarealism and the Language poetry on the textual side, and Düsseldorf School and New Topographics on the visual side.
What I’m trying to do is a meticulous study of structure that results in an ultimately lyrical outcome. The methodology of it is very impersonal and restrained, never directly human, so the composition is focused primarily on form, and the sentimentality comes from honoring it as such. In equal measure, it is a way of pointing and a way of worship.
So I picture small things, small movements, small differences in shades, suggesting that it’s the particular something, like the curve of a path, or the brownness of dirt, or the shape of an oak, that affirms the sensibility of life to begin with.
Kalochori (meaning “good village” or “nice land” in Greek) is a series I created just outside Thessaloniki, the second-biggest Greek city, in the north of the country, where three rivers meet (the Axios, Loudias and Gallikos). After having traveled through the Balkans they pour into the Aegean Sea. Their deltas form a lagoon that should be protected because it hosts rare animal and plant species, but it neighbors the industrial zone of the city and suffers from air and water pollution.
To my eyes and mind the result is a postmodern landscape combining beauty and death, rare colors and figures formed inside an oily inertia.
The idea for the series Lunar Landscapes came about on an impromptu photo shoot at Dreamy Draw Park for the Super Moon full moon on 12/02/17. The series came together in my mind while waiting on the moon to crest the mountain – each month for each full moon, a different park, in Arizona. The goal was to photograph the landscape, to catch the full moon cresting the horizon, so I could do what I love to do: be outside at night shooting long exposures. But not just anywhere. Here, in Arizona, in the desert with the rocks and cacti.
In 2015 I shot HOT SUMMER NIGHTS, all long exposures at night of urban landscapes – all in Phoenix. In 2016 was Night Water, again, all long exposures at night, of the canal system here in the city – then in 2017 I only worked on Nightlight – a self-portrait project, shot indoors, again long exposures done at night, but indoors. I missed shooting at night outdoors enormously. I was so ready to get back outside again. I can’t quite put my finger on it, to say it’s beautiful here is an understatement, it’s quite striking. When I’m outside at night I’m not experiencing some kind of metaphysical out of body mind meld magic – maybe I am! ;) What I know for certain is that the combination of the light and the color and the heat feels magical. I so wanted to get back to doing what I had done before – long exposures at night, but this time in the desert. Away from the urban core and the artificial lights. And be among the cacti and the creosote bushes and the sage and the rocks – under the moonlight.
Each month I scout out a new location, typically a park, although one month I shot at a private residence. The time frame of the shoot is very narrow – it’s one night, once a month, within in a matter of minutes as the moon is rising. And then it’s over – until the next month. 12 months, 12 outings. Narrowly defined parameters is something I consciously imbue into each of my projects. Setting my own “rules” for each series builds pressure which helps me clearly and purposefully create. Precisely defined boundaries – where ambiguity is absent, is inherent I feel, not only in how I prefer to live, but in my photography itself. Even in the murky darkness of my work, there is little that is not clearly what it makes itself to be.
Bad Egg is a series of images I collected over the last few years through my repetitive visits to an old nitrogen fertilizers factory outside Ptolemaida, a town in Northern Greece.
Driving his car I still recall my father’s voice “Close the windows quickly!” as we were approaching the area with the disgusting odor. The reaction of ammonia with other chemical elements gives hydrogen sulphide the rotten-egg smell.
The plant finally closed in 1996. Back in 2011 I started to take my first images in the area. Everything was as the Bechers’ typologies described. But there was something more than that.
Decay was so obvious to my eyes as it was then to my nose during childhood. With dust and wild plant vegetation together it was as if they had absorbed all the bad smell and transformed it into inspirational images evoking a strong feeling of appropriation and tranquility.
The project Middle Ground/En Medio Tierra is comprised of American Southwest urban landscape photographs that were inspired by recent political changes in the United States. Although initially conceptualized as a political satire and parody of Donald Trump’s “bigly” wall on the United States’ southern border, this project developed to symbolically represent the greater political, economic, social, and cultural barriers people construct to separate themselves from others. The physical walls pictured reference psychological, conceptual, and systemic barriers people construct to dissociate from others — barriers that serve to prevent acceptance and impede interpersonal connection.
— Douglas Stockdale, Rancho Santa Margarita, California
This project, Lost in La Bassa, is about the lands where I was born and where I used to live when I was a little kid. When I moved to another town I used to come back here to visit my relatives but, with the passage of time the visits have become more sporadic. That’s why I decided to retrace these landscapes in order to recall lost memories from my childhood and see these lands with new eyes.
The project Streets Without Qualities is a photographic exploration of the residential area of Saione, a working-class neighborhood within the city of Arezzo, one of the main cities in Tuscany, Italy.
At the beginning of the 20th century, this region was dotted with Belle Époque three-story houses and rural homes. Starting from the end of the 1960s until the 1990s, Saione began to develop its current aspect: taller buildings grew up quickly, apparently following no urbanization plan and exploiting the real estate market bubble of the time.
A specific patchwork of façades and streets grew with no identifiable qualities or evidence of any historical moment. In Tuscany, these kinds of areas are often underrated in favor of a visual cliché that privileges Medieval and Renaissance architecture, thereby contributing to creating a distorted idea of a territory.
The Hole explores the destruction and abuse we place on our land for our own personal need and gain, represented visually by disused quarries. In time these forgotten locations, that are sparsely dotted around the country, slowly return to what they once were by virtue of man’s absence. Humans use and deprive the land at their convenience. When it comes at a disadvantage it’s forgotten about and the land is left to deal with the consequences. When the environment finally retakes what is there, it returns in different ways to what was once before. It’s a never-ending cycle of nature versus the human race — with, unfortunately, the latter coming out on top, indefinitely.
Ciudad Jardín Soto del Real at Buniel, Spain: Abandoned, Plundered & Trashed.
More than 1,400 apartments were planned for the development called Ciudad Jardin Soto del Real — on a hill next to the village of Buniel (about 500 inhabitants), about 15 kilometers west of Burgos, in Spain.
In 2008, when one of the largest Spanish construction companies had to file for bankruptcy, just 312 apartments were completed or partially completed. The Spanish property bubble burst.
The bankruptcy of this construction company was a catastrophe for the village as well as for the subcontractors and the buyers of the apartments. The construction work stopped. Many involved companies and buyers lost their money, went bankrupt or were pushed to the brink of ruin.
The apartments and houses were unattended in the following years and were plundered. Recently, the huge area with approximately 55 hectares became more and more of a dump.