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US photography: Sarah Christianson   July 28, 2014

Sarah Christianson's photographic essay entitled When the Landscape is Quiet Again on the oil boom is underway in the Williston Basin in North Dakota. This boom is fueled by new horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques, and oil companies are working at breakneck speeds to drill 48,000 new wells in my home state. This has brought a stream of revenue, people, and jobs to this historically economically depressed region.

ChristiansonSwellsite.jpg Sarah Christianson, Well site carved out of bluffs near the Badlands, from the series When the Landscape is Quiet Again

She says that experts anticipate that drilling will continue for the next few decades, but no one knows for sure when the industry will pull out.

ChristiansonSspill.jpg Sarah Christianson,Saltwater pipeline spill, Murex Petroleum Corp., near Antler, from the series When the Landscape is Quiet Again

The project examines how the scars from previous booms are healing, what new wounds are being inflicted, and who is safeguarding the land in order to answer the question on everyone’s mind: what will locals be left with this time—when the landscape is quiet again?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:39 PM | | Comments (0)
British Photography: Arnau Oriol, urban commuters   July 24, 2014

Although street photographers have been trying to capture the mood of the daily commute for many years making pictures of urban commuters are hard to do. You have to be stealthy. Walker Evans, for instance, used a camera hidden in his coat to surreptitiously photograph people on the New York City subway in the 1938.

Along with Walker Evans, Bruce Davidson, Nobuyoshi Araki, Luc Delahaye, Christophe Agou and numerous others have produced important bodies of work from subway systems around the world. And many other photographers, from William Eggelston and William Klein to Helen Levitt and Saul Leiter, have drifted beneath the surface at one time or another to capture telling images.

The London commuters photographed below by Arnau Oriol were on the rail line that links the north and east London suburbs to the financial heart of the city. The commuters were photographed early morning, presumably on their way to work. They are photographed from a train platform as the train passes through over a six month period.

OriolAcommunter.jpg Arnau Oriol London woman commuter

The pictures are of commuters on the overground train as the windows offer a view to the city and a space for them to reflect, think and dream:

OriolAcommuter1.jpg Arnau Oriol London woman commuter

Photographing from outside the window as the train passes by, the commuters are unable to anticipate the photographer's presence or react when he takes the picture, thereby allowing Oriol to capture the commuter's state of introspection and distant thought.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:00 PM | | Comments (1)
French Photography: Antoine Bruy   July 18, 2014

Antoine Bruy is a French photographer whose new body of work Scrublands looks at people who live away from cities in very simple conditions.

BruyAScrublands01.jpg Antoine Bruy

From 2010 to 2013, Bruy travelled across a number of European mountain ranges, including the Carpathians and the Pyrenees, to document people developing self-sufficient life styles, and, in particular, with people who have adopted them after having spent years in cities.

BruyAScrubland2.jpg Antoine Bruy

Bruy does not pretend that this Utopian life is easy or even perfect, rather he merely reminds us that there are other paths we can follow if we wish to live a more satisfied life.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:32 PM |
British Photography: Chloe Dewe Mathews   July 15, 2014

Photography--snapshot or documentary---can provide us with traces of history even though this visual language is often mobilized to sell us commodities, wealthy lifestyles and fashion as art.

An example is the Caspian work by Chloe Dewe Mathews, a British photographer, who, in 2010, hitchhiked for nine months from China to Britain. The series focuses on the sanatorium town of Naftalan, Azerbaijan, where people bathe in local crude oil to treat a range of ailments; and on a group of Uzbek migrant workers, who are building increasingly elaborate tombs for the new oil-rich middle class in Kazakhstan.

Prior to the oil boom the Caspian was a holiday area during the Soviet era. An ecological scar caused by the oil boom around the Caspian, that large inland sea that lies between Europe and Asia.

Chloe Dewe Mathews, from the series Caspian

The traces of history form of representation starts from an acknowledgment of the relationship between the past and the present. The problem that arises is how do you represent, how do you fix, how do you photograph what is always changing when the very moment you grasp it, it’s already becoming something else, it’s already something else?

MathewsCDCaspianLandscape.jpg Chloe Dewe Mathews, from the series Caspian

What is presented is a trace by a visual language that is language is embedded in tradition. Consequently, the language is never just ours.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:38 AM |
Edgelands: Alexander Gronsky   July 7, 2014

Junk for Code has been quiet because I've been working on a solo exhibition entitled Edgelands at Manning Clark House in Canberra in November 2014. Edgelands are 'wild' areas, the territory which is not quite urban yet not exactly countryside.

Marion Shoard observes that this area between urban and rural landscapes emerges because the boundaries of town and country, between rural and urban landscapes. Shoard observes that the two do not often sit conveniently side by side, with clean dividing lines. Rather, there is between them a different kind of landscape, a transitional area that she terms the edgelands.

As noted in a previous post Alexander Gronksy is one photographer exploring edgelands--in his case those around Moscow in his Pastoral: Moscow Suburbs

GronskyAYuzhnoeTushinoII2010.jpg Alexander Gronksy, Yuzhnoe Tushino II, 2010.

In photographing the outskirts of Moscow he finds places where people try to find a refuge from the city caught up in an endless expansion.

Shoad says in "Edgelands" in Jenkins J, ed. Remaking the landscape: the changing face of Britain, (London: Profile, 2000) that

Between urban and rural stands a kind of landscape quite different from either. Often vast in area, though hardly noticed, it is characterised by rubbish tips and warehouses, superstores and derelict industrial plant, office parks and gypsy encampments, golf courses, allotments and fragmented, frequently scruffy, farmland…This peculiar landscape is only the latest version of an interfacial rim that has always separated settlements from the countryside to a greater or lesser extent. In our own age, however, this zone has expanded vastly in area, complexity and singularity…for most of us, most of the time, this mysterious no man’s land passes unnoticed: in our imaginations, as opposed to our actual lives, it barely exists…… jungles of marshalling yards and gasometers, gravel pits, water-works and car scrapyards seem no more than repositories for functions we prefer not to think about…This is a vaguely menacing frontier land hinting that here the normal rules governing human behaviour cannot be altogether relied upon…But if we fail to attend to the activity of the interface we forfeit the chance not only to shape that change but also to influence the effects of it on other parts of the environment…

Edgelands are a transitional area where a lot of environmental change takes place. Edgelands are usually raw and rough, sombre and menacing, flaunting participation in activities we do not wholly understand.

GronskyACheryomushkiI2010.jpg Alexander Gronksy, Cheryomushki I, 2010

The edgelands are unburdened by strict planning laws or design controls. As industry and our suburbia shifts into the edgelands, the roads reform to accommodate access to them, and the fringe gradually disappears, or is pushed further afield. Hence their transitional state.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:17 AM | | Comments (2)