The problem with aggressively mining a single specific site for over a century is that it tends to damage to the local landscape a bit. In Kiruna, for example—a Swedish town that’s been exploiting its iron ore resources since the 1800s—a huge crack caused by extensive digging is now moving towards the suburbs and threatening to swallow up thousands of homes.
Can You Spot the German Army Snipers in These Photos?
If you’ve ever played Call of Duty Online, you’ll know that snipers are very sneaky bastards. But that’s the point. They hide in the distance, camouflaged in their surroundings, and pick you off before you’ve even realised they’re there. In real life, these highly trained marksmen are capable of surviving alone in the wilderness for weeks on end. They diglittle holes—or “nests,” as they call them—and hang out there for a bit before popping up and putting a bullet through someone’s skull from more than a mile away.
Artist Simon Menner was recently granted permission to spend some time with the German Army and its snipers. During the two occasions he visited, he captured the soldiers’ remarkable ability to blend into their environment, producing images that appear to be simple landscape shots until you look close enough to spot the barrel of a gun.
This is a common theme in Menner’s work, which often focuses on information and the ways in which it can be restricted and revealed. Other similar works include minefields in Bosnia, and the more recent book Top Secret (Hatje Cantz, 2013), an extraordinary collection of both ridiculous and shocking images from the Stasi archives.
Mossless in America: Sean Stewart
Brooklyn-based photographer Sean Stewart hails from the industrial city of Pittsburgh, PA. Stewart’s work is quiet and contemplative, and his subject matter is centered around contemporary American issues. His scenes depict everyday normalities: collapsed industry, identical prefabricated houses encroaching on sprawling plains, buses hastily pulling in and out of mall parking lots, and so on. But Stewart’s photographs are particularly arresting because they seem to be detached from the anxious mood these scenes elicit. They’re factual, clean, and seemingly objective, as if he is just hovering above them. We spoke with Sean about objectivity in photography, the decisive moment, and the importance of being part of a photographic community.
Mossless in America
Kathya Landeros is a young American artist who photographs her family and Latino populations around the country. Her series Verdant Land alludes to the long history of agricultural work that has led Mexicans to the United States in search of a better life.
Mossless: Where did you grow up?
Kathya Landeros: I grew up in the Sacramento Valley of Northern California, surrounded by farmland. There was a period where I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandmother and great-grandmother in central Mexico. My parents sent my older sister and I to a parochial school that sat on top of a very steep hill in the central highlands of Mexico.
Does your family appear in your photos?
There is a portrait of my grandmother in my series Verdant Land. She worked as a farm laborer when she was younger and first came to this country.I am also photographing my family for a separate, ongoing body of work in California.
You mention in your artist statement that a lot of the settlements you photograph would be ghost towns if it weren’t for their Latino populations. What are these towns like?
The part of California where I am from is some of the most fertile land in our country, making the people who tend to it (a majority being Latino) quite productive. The land is very flat, and yet there is always evidence of rolling foothills and mountains never too far away. The sun also seems to produce the most intense heat and light here—really beautiful California light. This is especially true in the summer when the sun is high and its light is drawn out late into the evening. The land is usually laid out in a similar rectilinear fashion: a main business drag with homes surrounding it. The homes are enveloped by expansive farmland, which is the most defining feature that can be seen from the highway. When I think of these towns the paintings of Richard Diebenkorn and some of the other Bay Area Figurative Movement painters come to mind. Although their work is not specific to the towns I am photographing in, their rendition of light and geometry very much describes the West I know. Such a quiet view of the land also offers an interesting foil to the mythos of the rugged American West of cowboys.
Inside the Crumbling Walls of Kabul’s Abandoned Palace
Built in the early 1920s by King Amanullah Khan, the palace was intended as a symbol of Afghanistan’s modernization. That purpose was short-lived. The king was forced from power by religious zealots at the end of the decade, and all of his liberal reforms were rescinded.
Over the coming years, Darul Aman would serve as a medical school, a raisin warehouse, a refugee camp, and various government ministries until Afghanistan’s civil war made it an important strategic position. As an improvised fortress, it was taken and retaken repeatedly by opposing forces.
Now, a small unit of the Afghan National Army occupies Darul Aman. We pulled up to the barbed wire fence surrounding the palace, got out, and shut our doors quietly. The soldiers were lounging under a portico drinking tea, their assault rifles leaning rakishly against the pillars. We smiled and waved casually. They waved back.
Mossless In America: Curran Hatleberg
Mossless in America is a new column featuring interviews with documentary photographers. The series is produced in partnership with Mossless magazine, an experimental photography publication run by Romke Hoogwaerts and Grace Leigh. Romke started Mossless in 2009 as a blog where he interviewed a different photographer every two days, and since 2012 Mossless magazine has produced two print issues, each dealing with a different type of photography.Mossless was featured prominently in the landmark 2012 exhibition Millennium Magazine at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and is supported by Printed Matter, Inc. Their forthcoming third issue, a major photographic volume on American documentary photography from the last ten years titled The United States (2003-2013), will be published this spring.
Curran Hatleberg was one of the first photographers who inspired us to search for more documentary-style photos for the third issue of our magazine. His pictures, taken on roadtrips across America, are honest and naturally ambiguous. Whether it’s a woman with a black eye or a memorial stuck in a tree, Curran’s images make the viewer question the larger, unseen circumstances around his photos.
In this column, we’ll be interviewing a bunch of photographers from the third issue of our magazine, Mossless. Like Curran, the other artists we’ve chosen shoot modern America, capturing the essence of what it’s like to live in this country during this particularly difficult decade.
Mossless: Tell us a memorable story from your travels across America.
Curran Hatleberg: A while back I was sitting in an empty barroom looking out the entrance to a dirty street. The door was propped wide open, framing a perfect view of the foot traffic and cars streaming by in the night. I studied thousands of insects as they whirled and smashed into a streetlight. I watched a nervous, skinny woman flash her gold teeth, then drop an orange rind on the sidewalk. Then I saw a sedan meet a concrete pillar at 50 miles an hour. The car lurched up the pole with vicious agility, going completely vertical before landing upside down. The whole event appeared slow and graceful and very far away. I stared, inactive, for what felt like a very long time, trying to decide if what I saw had actually happened or not. Before I was aware of my movements I was on my knees, breathing hard at the driver’s side window. Everything smelled like gas. Glass and debris were strewn everywhere like confetti. Looking inside, the driver had blood streaming down his face in squiggled paths and was laughing uncontrollably. With the help of another man, I dragged him by the arms out of the window and onto the grass. The driver writhed on the ground in spastic fits of energy. A crowd developed around him, unsure what to do. It all happened very fast, but I clearly remember standing up and seeing one of the car’s tires spinning purposely, as if the road were still underneath it.
How much traveling have you done for your photography?
Thirty-one years’ worth.