As part of OpenWalls Arles 2020, we are highlighting photographers whose work is connected to this year’s theme: Growth. Find out how your work could be exhibited alongside Les Rencontres d’Arles 2020 at openwalls.co. Many people have seen polytunnels, but few have witnessed the vast manmade landscapes that are engineered within their polythene walls. In a new series shot across the UK – entitled Polytunnel – Marco Kesseler ventures inside these structures and quietly contemplates the hidden spaces in which our food is produced. “Nature always vies for its own control, dominance and space,” says Kesseler reflecting on the work, which explores the relationship between chaos and control in the natural environment. “Farmers seek to control that space, which creates an interesting balance.” In the series, photographs show wild shrubs clawing against the outside of the polytunnel plastic, or fallen leaves settled on the structure juxtaposed with streams of artificial sunlight that are projected onto the material inside. Beneath the polythene skin, seasons are stretched and softened, and minute changes compound over time to transform …
What happens when you put a white flower in a vase of coloured water? It’s an experiment some of us might fondly remember from our childhood, magically transforming a bunch of flowers with a dash of food colouring.
But the results are a little more frightening in a similar experiment by French artist Cornelius de Bill Baboul, as his flowers suck the colour out of sugary energy drinks. “I think they look a little bit like dancers,” he says. “Like kids on ecstasy in a techno club celebrating the end of the world”.
Brant Slomovic leads a double life: he is both a photographer and accident and emergency doctor. A recent commission in California allowed him to reflect on his relationship with the former
To the people of Provence, the Mistral is a local menace. It regularly ruins weddings, steals hats and scarves with ease and, at its worst, this epic wind has the strength to sweep up metal chairs and smash them into neighbouring windows. Even so, says Rachel Cobb, “I think maybe they actually like it”. “What I feel is that it’s a source of pride among the Provincials, a way of defining the region,” she adds. “They can withstand it, and they’ve learned to live with it.”
Cobb’s new book, Mistral: The Legendary Wind of Provence, is a record of the 20 years she spent hunting the wind. She has holidayed in the south of France for 40 summers now and, though she has been victim to the perils of the strong gales, she’s also found it inspirational – as have many other artists and writers. “I’m energised by it,” she says. “At night, when you hear it stir, you can feel the energy in the air.”
In our latest issue, Nature, we speak with Lena C Emery about her latest work, Yuka & The Forest, which draws on Japan’s powerful cultural connection to forests. Todd Hido’s latest series, Bright Black World, presents a more chilling vision, showing icy landscapes that suggest a impending environmental disaster. Yoshinori Mizutani takes on the genre of nature photography, meanwhile, proposing a fresher approach to images of wildlife with his series HDR_nature. We also offer an insight into the latest technology trends to emerge from the Photokina trade show.
“The sense of not knowing where I am, where I will go and what I will find is exciting and the fear starts fading”
“The beautiful blooms seemed lonely and desolate. Sadly, it reminded me of the fact that soon it would be razed to the ground, into dull but common urban landscape with standing skyscrapers,” says Lv Meng. His photograph comes from the series Urban Fringes which explores the growth of megacities as the slowly expand outwards and take over the countryside.
“I’m not concerned with being an environmental photographer, I’m concerned with making images that make you feel something you can’t quite understand. There’s something that happens when you’re presented with what you can’t quite fathom.” In Matter, Michael Lundgren explores deserts in Spain, the US and Mexico but his landscapes are a departure from more traditional photographs in this field. He wants us to question the world around us and find a magical realism in life, death and our environment.
The September issue brings the otherwise invisible into sharp focus. Invisible World explores forgotten conflicts, intimate retreats, abused landscapes and remote islands to uncover the hidden realities and unknown societies behind ordinary backdrops. “As social beings, we all demand to be seen,” says Hoda Afshar, whose latest series, Behold, takes us to an exclusive male-only bathhouse. Her point resonates with all the photoseries explored in this issue: how do we negotiate our surroundings, how do we see our societies, how do we interpret our world? We need to first see the invisible to answer these ever salient questions.
Petros Koublis has responded to Greece’s economic crisis by focusing his lens on the countryside surrounding Athens. For him, exploring his homeland’s natural landscape was the instinctual way to reflect on and probe the effects of the financial crisis, he says. The idea for In Landscapes came to him in November 2012, and was born from a personal need to explore “the difficult times we’re going through today”. He explains: “I wanted to avoid the narrative of violence and its graphic representation in news reports. The landscapes provided me with an abstract language through which I was not only able to emotionally express the crisis of our days with dignity, but also reach for something universal.” In doing so, Koublis hoped to emphasise the differences between nature and the city, and also touch upon how the beauty of nature can provide solace in turbulent times. “The series is an evaluation of our lives, the need for an escape, and the despair of not knowing exactly where to turn,” he says. “Nature provides a way out, an escape …