Ajay Malghan


Passing Through presents light trails photographed at night, visually representing time and movement in its most literal way. By capturing the Earth’s revolution over various periods of time, I’m using photography to display the movement of airplanes throughout the world. The images communicate that mankind is in a constant state of movement; even while one is standing still, the Earth is perpetually in transit. If we boil this train of thought down even further, every cell in our body is in constant motion and transition; essentially we’re never still as humans or as a society.

— Ajay Malghan, Laytonsville, Maryland, USA

Johnna Arnold


The freeways snuck into my life — from birth I’ve used them without knowing how they were made or who made them. Like our running water and electricity, these resources assist our daily lives, yet we rarely appreciate or acknowledge them. Our progress in mastering the land has separated us from the very thing that gives us life.

In this new body of photographs, called In/Finite Potential, I put myself in context with the Bay Area freeways. I am fascinated by the contrast between these inhospitable structures of utility and a small, fleshy human such as myself. I look for unexpected beauty in these forbidden lands, as I trespass with a combined sense of research and rebellion.

My feelings for these freeways remain complex. I appreciate the actions necessary to create these structures: communal decision-making, resource sharing, and hard physical work. I am fascinated by how these monolithic structures have affected my life, as well as the lives of the people around me. I selfishly value these freeways for their willingness to help me get from point A to B, and for the wealth of experiences that accessibility allows. I am angry with these freeways for their support of our planet’s environmental destruction, and for upholding a theory of progress in which we continue our separation from the land.

Moreover is the freeway’s seeming inability to be loved. I sing it songs, admire its weeds, rummage in its untold nooks and crannies, but as yet it appears unaffected.

— Johnna Arnold, Oakland, California, USA

Cole Whitworth


Highway 17 starts in Winchester, Virginia and travels south all the way to Punta Gorda, Florida. The roadway spans 1,189 miles and passes in and out of many towns along the way. This highway was used to travel up and down most of the eastern coastline before I-95 came about in the 1950’s and 60’s. It reflected the era of 1950’s travel motor homes and hotels, Victorian structures and WWII-era Liberty Shipworks. Since then, use of Highway 17 has greatly declined and it shows.

The highway acts as the gateway to the “The Golden Isles,” which includes Sea Island, Jekyll and St. Simons, as well as a way to get to historic Brunswick in southern Georgia. As a result of the great decline in use, the highway now showcases the effects of poor urban planning: along with ugly billboards, poorly-laid-out intersections, ruined and abandoned buildings, and clutter that doesn’t display or reflect the beauty of the coastal marshes and waterways all around you.

By documenting the area with the use of large format photography, my goal with this work was to show the structures along the highway that give evidence as to why there needs to be a focus on preserving and re-building Coastal Highway 17 as it enters and exits the city of Brunswick, GA. I focused on showing the poor use of land, the deserted buildings, the pollution sites and other eyesores that conflict with how the area should be organized. The city of Brunswick and Highway 17 stand as a model for so many other cities all across the United States that have the same problems and a need for preserving the historic and scenic qualities of these gateways.

— Cole Whitworth, Savannah, Georgia, USA

Alfredo De Stefano


In my photographs from the last few years, I have intervened upon the landscape, creating scenes or sets with a wide range of natural and manmade elements. In this way, amidst the sometimes oppressive vastness, I construct and photograph intimate spaces: some of them are metaphors for the painful desertification of the planet caused by man, while others work as ironic allusions to our relationship with the desert.

The action I perform deals with reintegration: it’s a reflection on what the desert has lost, but also a way of restoring its ravaged memory through a personal intervention. Obviously, in the desert, this intervention is something ephemeral, but nonetheless transcendent in the photographic memory that has managed to lend substance to a desire.

— Alfredo De Stefano, México City, México

Céline Clanet


Since 2005, I have been traveling regularly to Máze, a small Sámi village located at the highest point of the European map, far above the Arctic Circle, in Norwegian Lapland. There, I met quiet people, sometimes melancholic, captivating, who are very proud of their village and territory. They often have binoculars at hand, even in their homes, to gaze at these beautiful landscapes.

I have photographed Sámi people, houses, land and reindeer that were almost not here today. They barely escaped being flooded by the waters of a hydroelectric dam project that the Norwegian government planned in the early 1970’s and thanks to Sámi people’s protests and resistance was fortunately aborted.
But I have also photographed a reality that will undoubtedly transform in the coming century, due to global warming and cultural integration.

To me, Máze is an ambivalent symbol of resistance and helplessness. Pride as well as suspicion, solitude and great beauty prevail there. In the most beautiful tundra of the Arctic region, I tasted Ante’s and Ole Ailo’s favorite season, when days get longer and temperatures become milder. The perfect moment, when time doesn’t exist anymore and night is gone, when Sámi people immerse themselves in their favorite activities: fishing through ice holes in Lake Suolojávri and riding the snøskuter in the tundra. And all these hours spent with friends, family, outside on a reindeer skin, in a hytte or under a lávvu, talking, joiking, or lying down doing nothing, saying nothing. Just being.

— Céline Clanet, Paris, France

Review: Looking at the Land

Looking at the Land, curated by Andy Adams

As Adams notes in his introduction, many of the photographers included in Looking at the Land grew up in the suburbs, and have little experience with the wild. They are the heirs to the New Topographics style of photography.

Many of the photographs in this broad survey share a similar aesthetic: straightforward images of a place, but often tinged with irony or humor. Adams has created an exceptional viewing experience: there’s a 17-minute video of the photos and also an online catalog of each of the 88 images along with interviews with most of the artists. It’s fascinating to navigate through the interviews, reading the ones attached to the images that catch your interest.

The exhibit accompanies a show at the Rhode Island School of Design that investigates landscape photography from 1865 to the present. While the RISD show will be up for only a limited time, Adams plans to keep his exhibit online indefinitely. Adams, who produces the website Flak Photo, has also narrowed his focus to images made in the 21st century.

Some of the more memorable images, for me, were Chuck Hemard’s photo of flocking birds on telephone wires, Eliot Dudik’s image of tire tracks in snow, Jennifer Ray’s placement of woven grasses in a field, Mike Sinclair’s Kansas City street scene and Sophie T. Lvoff’s cloud scene photographed in New Orleans.

I was surprised to see how many of the images were beautiful in a classical sense, rather than ironic. Lvoff’s cloud image, for example, shows a gorgeous orange and peach-colored sunset. Her interview confirms my impression: “The way the sky unfolds every day is unique and has to do with the humidity here — so I photographed the roof of my house and surrounding trees on my street during an epic weather moment. It’s beautiful.”

Rather than critique humanity’s interactions with nature, some of the photographers consider ways to improve it. Ray writes this about her grass sculpture: “I began to think of how I could make a model of this symbiotic relationship — how I could depict nature manipulated, but unharmed, by humans. I spent two days sitting in this pasture, braiding grass, and trying to find the right topography, form, and time of day. As a gesture, the braid is gentle and impermanent, undone with the next windstorm or downpour.”

The photographers Adams has brought together provide a more hopeful vision than was presented in 1975 at the New Topographics exhibit in Rochester, New York.

— Willson Cummer

Dawn Roe


Goldfield Studies began during my time as artist-in-residence at the Visual Arts Centre of LaTrobe University, located in the Goldfields region of Australia.  The photographs and video works produced serve as a record of my response to the surrounding bushlands and the disparate histories that comprise this space. Though not always visible, the abandoned mine shafts that pierce these grounds serve as markers, unearthing a complex web reaching back to the era of the first gold strikes the region is known for. 

During my time in the Goldfields, I came to understand this space as repository of cultural memory constructed from the opposing perspectives of indigenous and colonial settler narratives, pastoral landscape representations, folklore and myth.  Confronted with this past, I found myself looking to uncover the poignancy of present moments, and the fleeting resonance of immediate experience.  My process combines a documentary approach with direct interventions into the landscape as well as constructions in the studio.  Deliberately clunky fabrications incorporate gold fabric and other materials that refer to mining, while also echoing the unsettling imagery of gothic fairytales that intermingle with this space.

While the particulars of location are essential to this series, the impetus for the work was a desire to reconcile documentation and interpretation. The layered narratives of the Goldfields, the palpable passage of time, suggested a rethinking around the formal language of the still and moving image.  I work with paired and multiple panels in an effort to deny a singular experience and to address the cognitive shifts between now and then, here and there.  Each view is represented as a distinct observation, emphasizing the necessary duration of present experience, suggesting that “your perception, however instantaneous, consists in an incalculable multitude of remembered elements; and in truth, every perception is already a memory.” (Henri Bergson)

— Dawn Roe, Winter Park, Florida, USA

Book Review: Haboob

Haboob, by Andrew Phelps

One of Andrew Phelps’s most powerful subjects in his new book, Haboob, is Nothing.

Haboob documents the effect of the economic downturn on Phelps’s hometown of Higley, Arizona. The book’s title is the Arabic name for the seasonal desert winds that sweep through the region.

One of the Nothing photos shows the wonderfully-named intersection of Buckaroo Trail and Liberty Lane. The sign for Liberty Lane is slightly bent. The remarkable thing about the intersection is that there are no houses or buildings of any kind there. In the distance, we see upscale homes, but at Buckaroo and Liberty there’s nothing.

Another Nothing photograph seems to riff on Ansel Adams’s famous shot of a moonrise in Hernandez, New Mexico. Adams filled the middle ground with a small church and gravestones — signs of the life and death of a community. But Phelps’s moon rises over nothing — a pole and road sign in the foreground, bare desert stretching through the middle ground, toward a tiny distant line of green.

Many of Phelps’s photos document loss: a ruined palm tree, a fountain sitting in the middle of a large field of gravel. Other pictures show confusion: paint color swatches scattered on the ground, iron mustangs on a gate to nowhere, church signs and political signs in a desolate stretch of road.

Haboob is a beautiful and grim meditation on emptiness and destruction. The book is published by Kehrer Verlag.

— Willson Cummer

Chang Kyun Kim


When I moved to California, I was surprised by the number of power plants and oil refineries that were adjacent to local communities. However, the more surprising thing was that many of the residents in the areas didn’t even know what the facilities were.

The title Intervened Landscapes first indicates the physical intrusion of the facilities into natural landscapes. They always seem to be eyesores but somehow are accepted and forgotten by people. More importantly, it also means some kind of invisible intervention that obscures our minds toward the whole energy industry, which can be government control and high-level security, or contribution to communities such as local developments that all have friendly-looking slogans.

By putting color palettes in front of the lens and blocking the facilities in the frames, I wanted to imply people’s view intervened by the industry’s secrecy and the forceful friendliness.
— Chang Kyun Kim, Los Angeles, California, USA

Eldar Zeytullaev


Meeting Place. Basically, this place is in our consciousness. Meeting place with yourself, with your thoughts and stereotypes.
Images in a series, spaces in which things occurred, or could have. These are places with shadow sites of our consciousness. Having pressures or fears, not everyone takes a step to this place.

— Eldar Zeytullaev, Novorossiysk, Russia