A Giant Hole Is Swallowing a Town in Peru
When we arrived in Cerro de Pasco, a medium-size city in the high Peruvian sierra, it was night. We inched through the crowded, twisting streets past a large statue of Daniel Carrión, a legendary medical student who stands there with a syringe in his hand, injecting himself with the disease that’s named in his honor. In the colonial quarter, we abruptly came to a wall, painted alternately with graffiti and the words private property. I could sense a great emptiness on the other side, like when you’re by the ocean but cannot quite see it.
I climbed a rock and peeked over. All around in the distance the city was aglow. Plunging out before me was the hole, void of light but for the tiny headlights of trucks crawling around its sides. This is El Tajo: the Pit.
In Andean cosmology, Earth is Pachamama—Mother Earth—and this massive polymetal mine is the locus of a literal penetration. It is 1.2 miles wide and as deep as the Empire State Building is tall. All day and all night, the rock-grinding machinery produces a low mechanical groan, which is amplified tremendously by the pit’s speaker-like shape. It is the sound of the city being eaten alive.
Photo by the author.
Cerro de Pasco is an environmental and urban catastrophe. The pit, which opened in 1956, is in the middle of the city—not beside it but in it. As it grows, thousands of families have had to move into unplanned urban developments, most of which lack basic sanitation. Now the city is running out of space. In 2008, Peru’s congress passed Law No. 29293, calling for the resettlement of the entire population of 67,000. But the law has gone unheeded.
How to Fish on an Exploding Lake
Straddling the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lake Kivu is full of small sardines prized by local fishermen. It’s also loaded with dissolved carbon dioxide and methane, which have the potential to explode.
Haunting Photos of Bosnia’s Never-Ending Land Mine and Flooding Problem
Earlier this year, Bosnia experienced massive flooding, and as a result land mines that had been dormant for almost two decades slid into towns, disguised under a layer of wet, dark earth.
Above: NPA Bosnia engineer with mine-clearing dog
Warning tape in Orasje, Bosnia
A Prom-1 antipersonnel land mine
Portrait on the wall of a flooded house
The study of a flooded house
A bridge in Doboj that’s believed to be above washed-up land mines
An NPA Bosnia engineer
An explosives box
Nikola Tesla High School
A flooded study in the village of Mladici
A pool filled with flood water
More flood water in the pool
Spice bottles in a kitchen after a flood
A waterlogged family photo album
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Hailing from the picturesque Catskill mountains, photographer Juan Madrid takes intimate portraits of the seemingly unapproachable as he chronicles and humanizes the once-great and now-fallen cities and towns of America. Focusing mainly on the quieter moments of these regions that haven’t been covered by major media outlets, Madrid allows us to feel these places like we haven’t before. We talked to Juan about rampant poverty, knife fights, and the problems with new growth in old cities.
We Talked Delayed Gratification with Photographer Eric Kim
Eric Kim is one of the most popular street photographers the internet has produced. His shots dominate Instagram and Tumblr, and his Youtube videos have lead to a dedicated following of fans. He’s a tech-head’s tech-head, one who also manages to take interesting, thoughtful street photos that are thankfully not of graffiti walls. He was recently in Australia presenting a series of workshops, so we thought we’d interview him and scam some free advice.
VICE: This is your first time in Australia. Have you seen anything local photographers might underappreciate?
Eric Kim: Australia has the best light in the world for photography—number two is Istanbul. I don’t know if it’s because you guys have a wild ozone system… I think it’s because of the longitude and latitude. The angle the light hits, it’s really edgy—and the lights, the shadows, are absolutely incredible. Look at the work by Trent Parke. The light here is just phenomenal. You can’t get this anywhere else in the world.
So you mostly shoot film—is it practical, or are you a bit sentimental?
I started shooting film because I visited friends in Tokyo and everyone there shoots film. At first I’m like, “You’re all just a bunch of hipsters; why are you shooting film?!” I had my Leica M9 and thought I could shoot digital, use post-processing software, and make my shots look like film. It just seemed pointless to me. They’re like, “Nah, Eric, you gotta try it out.”
From the 2014 VICE Photo Issue: Walk in the Woods
Thomas Albdorf makes beautiful images and then gives them titles like this: “The Blooming of the Daffodil Flower Between May and June Leads Many Tourists Towards Lunzer Lake.” Get into it!
Read a conversation with Portland photographer Missy Prince about deserts, darkrooms, and goats on leashes.