Mines of the Darwin Quadrangle
The silence is broken only by gusts of wind and the songs of cactus wren and the scrape of rusted metal against metal. Broken glass, bullet casings and rock shards crunch underfoot. Creosote bushes sway in the wind. Brush snags, catches, trips me as I walk. A dust devil whirls sand in my eyes and grit in my mouth. Relentless heat scorches and stifles, yet the sweat evaporates before it cools. My water is hot and does not refresh.
I am exploring an abandoned mine site deep in the remote mountains of the Mojave Desert. Hiking up a rock-strewn, broken trail scratched into the side of the mountain, the truck is left a mile back, the road too dangerous to drive. The site comes into view as I round a bend. Its appearance raises so many questions: What was mined here? Who lived and worked here, and when? Why did they leave? How did they get materials, machinery, fuel, food and water here? Were they lonely in this desolate place?
There is a hole in the ground and a decrepit, bleached ladder drops into the darkness; I cannot tell how deep the shaft is – a dropped rock takes 10 seconds to hit bottom, bouncing against the walls on the way down, taking pebbles with it. There is a weathered wood structure, paint long gone from years of battering winds. Corrugated metal panels, rusted and twisted, lay about and are perforated with shotgun blasts.
There is sadness to the place, a sense of abandoned hope, of brutal, back-breaking work, and of desertion and failure. There is also the knowledge that these structures will inevitably be gone someday, perhaps soon, like the men who built them – the result of weather, vandalism, looting and the neglect of the forgotten.
These photographs can only ask the questions; I have few answers*. I can only hope that in some small way the pictures might illustrate the emotion I feel, the wonder of discovery, the stark beauty and the finality of the place, the hope and the despair, the legacy. If they memorialize the scene, then I have succeeded in some small way.
*Technical records exist that answer some of these questions, for some of the mines: What was mined, how many men worked here, the equipment used, the economic value. It is documented that during the Great Depression of the 1930s many who were displaced and destitute from the economic collapse migrated to public lands and took up mining in an attempt to eke out a living. As the economy shifted for the war effort in the 1940s and the government ordered these small scale mines closed, these subsistence miners abandoned their mines either for more lucrative employment elsewhere, or enlisted in the military – never to return at war’s end. It was the end of an era.
— Marcia Mack, Fountain Valley & Darwin, California, USA
This project focuses on how suffering arises in a person and traces its roots into memories of childhood and youth. It is split up in three parts with each being preluded by a short text. The first part begins with a quote from a La Dispute song and leads into childhood and its playfulness. The definition of “entropy” marks the opening of the second part which deals with the timespan between youth and adulthood. The last part and its explanation of “metaxis” examines a feeling of imbalance and an in-between.
The photographs are intentionally vague and open to allow the viewer to search for their own interpretation or relate to certain emotions. They provoke questions without certain answers to emphasize how memories fade and warp over time. This fallible construct is the base for our feelings and perception of the world around us which thus is in constant change — potentially leading to feelings of tension and ambiguity. We never truly are, but merely exist in an approximation in between our past experiences and those still to come.
— Oliver Wiegner, Bielefeld, Germany
Some winter days in Buenos Aires fog covers the urban landscape. The solitude of the park, off-season, constructs a wistful image.
I’m interested in the landscape as a metaphor of absence and memory.
I like long silences.
— Eduardo Saperas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
There is a mostly hidden and often disregarded universe within our space of life: the province. The province is borderless: it has no real beginning and no well-defined ending, except at the edges of urban zones, which are like islands, like galaxies in an wide and secluded area. Province is an interspace which is connected worldwide with itself.
I am searching for my “objets trouvés” in the nameless countryside, in the extensive absence, in the aside, in the silent realms, where everything seems conventional and unspectacular. I am searching for the similar and the singular there, and even in the biggest tristesse I can find the beauty of melancholia or some rests of lost times, which are spending a strange and lovely form of idyllic shelter.
Furthermore I want to find out what is the character of province, what is special there, what is common, what is the atmospheric fingerprint of an area that I walk or drive through.
For me the province is a room of lost time and no-time, there is only past and a small quantum of presence, but not the illusion of future, which is forming the awareness of life in our cities.
So the main location of my work is the province, the backwoods, the outside. And one of my favorite photographic series is called Universum Provinz. It is a never-ending series, because universe is infinite.
— Hans Hansmann, Leipzig, Germany