“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
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 Peering around unassuming corners and down quiet roads, these images present an unexpected view on how our sometimes out-of-date and sometimes out-of-place occupation of the Canadian landscape connects and brings us together as a society.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
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
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
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
My project titled Unintentional Sculptures was created during the years 2015 to 2017 within the suburban landscape of Attica, Greece, which has gone through a great deal of changes due to the economic crisis.
I explored the landscape and decided to focus and highlight the man-made constructions that reveal the economic and building activities of the recent past.
These constructions — some unfinished and some timeworn — have finally transformed the natural landscape with their enigmatic forms in the most permanent way.
— Vassilis Konstantinou, Athens, Greece
In this documentary project I have focused on a group of Iranian youths who go to nature for a couple of days. They want to spend their holiday in calmness. They choose a place where they are deserted from others, but even in such a place something is wrong. Something is not under their control. It seems that they bring their boredom with them. All of this has a conspicuous effect on their relationships and surrounding nature.
— Behnam Sadighi, Tehran, Iran
Despite the archaic sprawl and unaccommodated loneliness pervading America’s byways, there remains the oldest, most striking structures of all. One guards a rocky crest overlooking U.S. Route 19 near Rocky Gap, West Virginia, forming a mise en scène resembling a contemporary play. As if waiting for me to pass, a solitary Ocotillo Cactus stands aside the road in California’s desert. Along Lincoln Highway in Pennsylvania, we see power lines stretching over a tree stump, as if to make claim to the territory. Trees sprout up in the most surprising places. During long stretches of time driving, it is difficult not to begin to anthropomorphize, to attribute these trees human characteristics. In cities we have parks deliberately constructed and trees planted according to the phenomenological goals of urban planners. These arboreal roadside companions seem to eschew any of that. Instead they stand as objects of serendipitous beauty, unintentionally placed yet completely appropriate.
— John Sanderson, New York City
“Now we have our country back”
The Holderness coastline in Yorkshire’s East Riding is one of the most vulnerable coastlines in Europe, retreating on average between one and two metres a year, although in exceptional weather conditions up to ten metres of cliff face have been known to disappear overnight. Whether a particular stretch of coastline is protected or not depends on the economic value of the land. Thus, areas which contain cheap housing and caravans which are sparsely distributed remain unprotected. This regime is known as “managed retreat”. To live on this coast, even in those protected areas, must require a degree of defiance and fatalism that would be hard for most of us to imagine.
This is also a part of the country which voted strongly in favour of leaving the European Union in last year’s bitterly contested referendum debate. The title, “Now we have our country back”, refers to the hoped-for final outcome of the winners’ campaign, to a particular graffiti celebrating this success and to the clear irony encapsulated by this graffiti written on a protective concrete block placed across a road which can be seen, in the middle distance, to be gradually slipping into the North Sea.
— Adam Dunning, Chesterfield, England
For the past several decades, I have focused on the mankind-made and -altered landscape. Verdure is a departure from this in that there is no obvious evidence of “the hand of mankind” altering the landscape. This project started out as an ostensibly documentary series of bittersweet vines’ ability to overcome just about any plant, tree or even structure, covering them in relatively short order. The series quickly morphed and became more purely a study of abstraction in greenery, with an “all-over-ness” approach, a description used by a couple of abstract painter friends.
While my usual approach is to examine the mankind-altered landscape, another aspect of my work is that mentioned above: abstraction in that landscape. (See Rockface on my website.) Very loosely defined, the Verdure images fit into the altered landscape approach, as they are of the results of landscape being exposed when roads are built. Trees grow differently then and bittersweet and grape vines find new armatures, as it were, on which to spread – rampantly – as they are exposed to full sun.
Andrew Buck, Farmington, Connecticut, USA