The images in my book Night Light are views of dormant small towns and communities during bright nights and dark days. A street lamp, an illuminated window, a neon sign or the light of a summer night sky that never completely fades out. And the opposite: the winter season, when the darkness is grafted onto days early.
Strolling around these night landscapes is a lonely walk. The empty streets, the deserted park benches, the parked cars, the silence, gives a sense that time has stopped, and that the surroundings await a new day’s life and movement.
When you then look at the illuminated windows, the glimmer from TV screens, the silhouettes of people, you are reduced to a viewer, a statist, without a role and a reply. You are absorbed by the darkness, you become a shadow, a stranger. A moth searching for light in a landscape that, compared to the daytime, completely has changed character.
— Jan Töve, Hökerum, Sweden
A buffer zone in Cyprus was first established in 1964. The UN sent peace keepers to prevent a recurrence of fighting, following intercommunal violence between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots that had flared up in December 1963.
After a Greek Cypriot coup d’état and a Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the United Nations Security Council extended and expanded the mission, and a 180 km long (and up to 7.4 km wide) demilitarized and depopulated Buffer Zone was established: this “Green Line” de facto splits the island in two.
The UN mission in Cyprus, UNFICYP, — keeping peace, patrolling the buffer zone etc. — is the UN’s cheapest and costs some EUR 50 million a year.
This “Green Line” cuts right through the centre of the old town of Nicosia. In some parts, it is only one street (3.3 meters) wide. Outside of the capital, there are several deserted villages in the buffer zone. Nicosia’s international airport also lies in the Buffer Zone: its brand new terminal was opened in 1968, but since 1974 it has only been used by pigeons.
— Jan Banning, Utrecht, Netherlands
Silent Landscape is a project about landscape as a refuge for recovery and silence in a stressful world, but also about the landscape that is silenced by human influence. The geographical position of the places is subordinate. My starting point has been the fact that Sweden got its first “silent sanctuary” in order to protect the area’s unique sound environment and not allow pollutions caused by noises such as cars, boats, machines, people and so on.
I feel it is important to highlight the everyday landscape, which in one way or another is always linked with time and history and is of great importance to our well-being. Those nearby landscapes are an inalienable part of our lives. We are deeply connected to them. They constitute our external physical environment in which we reflect ourselves and create our internal mental landscapes.
Landscapes are not only monumental beauties of wilderness that enrich our romantic dreams. Landscape is not something that exists only in the distance. The landscape is a reality in each person’s life.
— Jan Töve, Hökerum, Sweden
Recently I was introduced to the CEO of a recycling company who welcomed me to visit and photograph a scrap yard that I had long been familiar with, but until that point had unable to gain access to. Soon after that meeting, I was escorted about a vast terrain strewn with all manner of metal shapes and forms. Organized by type, scrap metal was gathered in small mountains throughout the site. While the overall landscape was fascinating to look at, I found the clutter distracting. By taking closer looks within the jumble, I discovered chance arrangements of metal which suggested a kind of gestural intention. A few of these photographs directly reference drawing and others were consciously influenced by Frank Stella’s Bird wall reliefs. Sculptors such as David Smith and John Chamberlain have worked with metal junk and certainly these artists could be seen to have influenced my appreciation for scrap metal.
My photographs of scrap metal are a natural evolution of earlier work where I had looked at construction materials and industrial detritus. In that work my subjects, photographed in the landscape, seemed to take on the qualities of sculpture, earthworks and minimalist art. Moving my lens closer to the scrap metal meant eliminating the context of the landscape, but in doing so, an order was extracted from the visual chaos.
— Jan Staller, New York City