Tiago Casanova explores the point where nature and construction collide for a project on his home island of Madeira
Tiago Casanova’s interest in photography is wedded to his love of architecture. “I usually say that being a photographer is my own way of being an architect,” he explains. He studied the latter at Portugal’s Porto School of Architecture, and uses image-making “as a medium to talk about important architectural issues.”
Casanova now lives in Portugal but was born and raised on Madeira, and decided to train his lens on the island for his recently-completed project of the same name. The series came about after he was invited to join the group project Visual Narratives: European Borderlines, supervised by Vanessa Winship and George Georgiou, which saw twelve young photographers from Latvia, Turkey, Iceland, and Portugal embark on a year-long documentary project on the theme of ‘borderlines’.
“I decided to explore Madeira and the notion of the borderline between nature and construction,” says Casanova. “I chose this topic for several reasons, including the fact that the local government was being investigated for spending billions in unneeded infrastructures, and modifying the face and landscape of an island that is supposed to survive from tourism. This tourism is in turn directly related to nature. Madeira means ‘wood’, which says it all.”
In Casanova’s images built elements become part of the landscape, but there is often a sense of tension. Sharp-angled constructs jut out of the frame; concrete highways tussle for attention against an open blue sky; tunnels disappear into the mountains. He has self-published a photobook of the series and intends to show the work in what will be his first solo exhibition at the Image Museum of Braga in Portugal in April.
“I didn’t want to make a moralistic work or a photojournalistic one. I wanted to explore and photograph the island in a way that I thought was natural and raw, trying not to give it a negative or positive feeling. This is why I decided not to include any type of synopsis. The only available text is an excerpt from a travel diary that I kept during the project.”