A thousand years ago the inhabitants of the mountain valleys of the Andes painstakingly transformed the landscape, sculpting terraces out of the mountainsides and turning marginal land into productive fields. The population boomed and the surplus from these crops formed the economic basis of the Wari and Inca empires.
Since the turn of the 20th century, a vast migration from the countryside to the cities has taken place. Small capitals have transformed into metropoles. The settlements of these new inhabitants sprawl into the hills and nearby mountains.
Mountain fields like stairways of stone is a handmade artist book with black and white photographs exploring these landscapes; the ancient rural and the modern urban. The book draws visual parallels between the practice of hillside crop terracing and the more recent phenomenon of massive and informal urban development. I am interested in exploring both the continuities and disruptions in human alternations to the landscape as written on the land in South America.
— Thomas Locke Hobbs, Los Angeles
I like boundary, light and shades — the limit. Projecting out this fondness, the components blend together and compare one to another. There’s a space for all and one for privacy. I choose this way, the doorway, end of the stairs, a front step. Over the threshold, a part of comic, sometimes part of tragedy spring up and what I bring to light — it’s something simple and sober, but also sophisticated. It’s an accurate view, a momentary glimpse, another space changing or not in due time. I’ll drop by again and all standing next will have a photograph taken: small houses, vanished stores, places on a human scale. Work to be done from day to day.
— Denis Thomas, Bordeaux, France
The Sheep Pasture Gardens are community vegetable gardens which are tended by residents of North Easton, Massachusetts. I began to make photographs there as a refuge from my busy and noisy life. I could focus on the beauty of the landscape, reflect on changes of the season and admire the elegant structure of plants. Yet over time the garden landscape became less fanciful. During my visits I noticed that food was left unharvested to rot. The gardens appear to be therapeutic hobbies — not essential to the people who cultivate them — and were often forgotten. This prompted me to question how gardens are used by people who truly need them. My research led me to learn about poverty farming within the Andean communities of South America. I decided to visit. Presently I am working on two complementary projects: the Sheep Pasture Gardens and the Cloud Forest Gardens — each serving a different purpose.
— Thomas Ladd, North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, USA
For the past 20 years, the vantage point of my work has always begun with a deep emotional need to be linked with nature and the question of how this is presented within today’s media.
In the series Real Landscapes (2004 – 2013) I explore the boundaries between simulation and reality. The world is reproduced as a sort of model kit. Large impact scenes are presented on a very small scale. Images and replicas vacillate between the idyllic and the catastrophic. Using simple means, I create novel worlds of imagery that exist exclusively through photography, by photography, as a photograph.
The ideas for my pictures are driven by impulses from the worlds of art and media, and I complement these with images of personal significance. I stage commonplace miniature toy models into real landscapes: on North Sea beaches, in coal dumps, and on garbage heaps.
— Thomas Wrede, Münster, Germany
translation by Stephanie Klco Brosius
Buenos Aires was founded, twice, on a small bluff not far from where the Paraná and Uruguay rivers enter into a broad estuary called the Rio de la Plata. Hundreds of miles of flat pampas give way, rather undramatically, to a small slope, about 30 feet in height, below which sits the river. After living in Buenos Aires for about two years, the flatness of the city, the impossibility of having a vista or a perspective from which to orient oneself, began to feel oppressive. I started taking pictures around the one, small topographical feature present in the city: the brief slant of the barely perceptible riverbank, or barranca.
Residents of Buenos Aires say the city turns its back on the river. Indeed, centuries of landfill have pushed the present-day edge of the river so far from its original banks that standing at any point on the riverbank, the river itself is never visible. What is visible are the markings of Argentina’s history: the lavish parks built in the 19th century, the seat of government, the bullet-scared façade of a government ministry, the site of a clandestine torture center run during the last military dictatorship, murals for candidates, a monument to a lost war, graffiti for recently a deceased ex-president, an elevated highway constructed for the World Cup and so on.
The photos in this work are ordered by their geographical location, from north to south, starting with the Avenida General Paz, which marks the northern limit of the Federal Capital district of Buenos Aires and then continuing southward until Parque Lezama, in the southern part of the city.
— Thomas Locke Hobbs, Buenos Aires, Argentina
In summer 2010, I started working on a new project titled City River. Its focus is on the river Isar on which the city of Munich, Germany is located. In former times, the river was of great economic importance for the city but today it serves as Munich’s largest area for recreation. Although the Isar was canalized and its banks were fixed in the 19th century, large sections of the river convey an impression of “wilderness” that is quite exceptional for an urban landscape. This is due to the particular geology of the Munich area as well as a public initiative to “re-naturalize” the Isar.
City River is an ongoing exploration of the meaning of wilderness in the context of an urban landscape that has been used and rebuilt for many centuries. I am interested in the intersection of nature and culture and how people experience it.
— Thomas Wieland, Munich, Germany
My work is based on our perception of time, how it passes and especially its lack of linearity. Some places seem frozen as time passes by. While our society is developing and changing very rapidly, these places are submitted to a distorted passing of time. They seem to be lifeless or in a waking state, although in reality they have their own link with time.
I travel the world with one idea in mind: to find and show timeless islands. I choose to enter closed and abandoned places formerly alive, and often places of leisure or prestige to capture and share them.
— Thomas Jorion