Thursday, 23 July 2015

Ideas around an exhibition from 1975

A few postings back I had a look at the changing styles of Spanish architecture in one of their cemeteries in Menorca. It is astonishing how they seem to have abandoned their ability to create beautiful structures when confronted for the need of the new. There are practical reasons and those of cost that will be driving them towards this, especially at a time when behind Greece, Spain is close be being bankrupt. That aside I have spent some time looking at their commercial development. They are quite capable in providing infrastructure. They make good roads, they are wide, have pavements, street lighting and adequate parking. The money for infrastructure is of course from government sources, or more likely the EU when the billboards are studied that promote the works. The story after that is somewhat sad. The businesses who are asked to populate the commercial areas do not last and the empty spaces between buildings seemingly will never be filled. Those that are built are becoming empty allowing the scrubland to begin its slow but reclamation back to scrubland.

While looking at these and photographing the area I was thinking of New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-altered Landscape, 1975. The 270 sqaure miles of Menorca is a Unesco Biosphere reserve, a designation issued in 1993 for the rich flora and fauna that thrive in Minorca’s forests, gorges, wetlands, salt marshes and hillsides : a protected place. The loss of natural landscape here is so significant I begin to wonder what the process must be to dig it up, spoil it and make buildings and roads that nobody will use. Questions I did not have the time (or perhaps the language skills) to ask. What I have done is a series of images that could be part of a larger discourse. For now most of them they remain as raw files requiring PP but as I am excited about seeing some for myself I have looked at one and complete the work. It shows the ambitions of the developer with an older building extended although for all that it is empty. The pedestrian crossing, wide pavements and street lights for nothing. While there I saw few people and found the place almost as spooky as the cemetery. All images Leica MM, 28mm Elmarit.

People ?

Reclaiming the Land


  1. You've certainly caught something of the New Topographics with those images, I would maybe also try them as a 5:4 ratio crop.

  2. At any time I am shooting outdoors I am thinking NT and love the way that allows me to be detached from any overt photographer intervention. I have thought about your 5x4 comment and mentioned it on the Flickr version of these images. I do like 5x4 as a format and for a while used 5x4 film. Cropping to 5x4 does work sometimes to make it compact and many of the NT photographers used 5x4 or 10x8. Lewis Baltz, who shot most of the industrial images used 35mm and that is perhaps where I am getting the influence in my work. I dont crop much these days, relying more on thinking about the final work at the time of taking. In future depending on the subject matter I will think AR and whether its right for what I am doing.