“Alas poor District Six! They are planning your downfall. They wish to make an end to the live throbbing area. They are making Darling Street a dagger pointed straight at your heart. What will I find if, in another life, I revisit the old district?” — The Torch (newspaper), 1940
What is in a landscape? Is it built up by memories as well as by rock and soil? Is it a record of society’s values and ideals etched into the land? Can the land mirror the ghosts and scars of history or can harsh trauma sever the bond between the land and its history?
The forced removals of and destruction of District Six has been called “South Africa’s Hiroshima” because of the effectiveness that such a recognizable entity with a distinct identity and sense of place could be so conclusively removed. Today, much of the land still lies barren.
Set aside to become the District Six Memorial Park, the land has been ignored, allowing the grass and wild fennel to grow wild and a community of otherwise homeless people to move into the area and make it their home.
Signs of Life examines this barren land and the traces left behind by the historic community while showing that the land, despite being forgotten, is actually full of life. This allows the work to question the role of memorials, to ask how present is our history and finally to ask what role land itself can play in understanding our both our past and present?
— Jon Riordan, Cape Town, South Africa
East of London, the Broomway lies at the mouth of the Thames estuary, where the river meets the sea. It’s an ancient public right of way, at least 600 years old, perhaps an Anglo-Saxon drove route. It was formerly waymarked by a series of markers resembling brooms, hence its name. When the tide is out, it provides access on foot to Foulness Island.
The byway has long been notorious as the most perilous in England due to the disorienting nature of its environment in poor visibility, and near inevitability of death by drowning for anyone still out on the sands when the tide comes in. Many people have died on it over the years.
The Broomway leaves the mainland at Wakering Stairs, where there is a causeway over the band of soft mud known as the Black Grounds (or blackgrounds) which separates the mainland from the firmer ground of the Maplin Sands.
— Jack French, Wiltshire, England
Southern Tense is a continuation of Overgrown South. Overgrown South considers the tension between the South of the past, a contemporary South, and how it is often portrayed in a broader culture, “through recognizable and at times stereotypical images.”
Southern Tense considers the ambiguity of a place that is defined by something as nebulous as time. Locations are not mentioned but these are visible features of the Southern United States landscape — not necessarily untouched or natural but topographical inflection, realistic and detailed through geography, autobiography and metaphor.
— Shaun H. Kelly, Oxford, Mississippi, USA
These images are from my ongoing series called Seen by Odd Eyes.
I’ve been trying to see in new ways the locations near my home.
A lot of my recent work has been shot in places that many people would walk past without a second glance. My approach comes out of an increasing familiarity with a location.
Once you have exhausted the obviously “pretty” parts of the landscape, you start to look much closer and realize that beauty can be found in all sorts of places.
I am capturing moments in the landscape that only exist for a very short period and cannot be reproduced because of the light. Those edgeland places where I’ve been shooting the light makes them something more.
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. — Plato
Seen by Odd Eyes has a touch of humans in nature, too. We are inside these landscapes and locations but always are somehow the smaller and weaker part of this bigger picture.
It is we who have forced the water to run like we want; it is we who cut the forests and make big holes in them. We need electricity and power of course, but we also need the calmness and serenity of nature at the same time. We need our seasons, too.
I want these images to show how small we are in long run and how much more we should really look at our surroundings to learn to enjoy beauty and value it more and protect it.
— Mirja Paljakka, Ylojarvi, Finland