September 17, 2012 Author: Dan Holdsworth
Whether mountains or parking lots, Dan Holdsworth (1974) makes sure he photographs them in such a way that they look desolate. He waits for the moment that the light, natural or artificial, looks most dramatic. The British photographer’s interest is with landscapes that startle the viewer.
His new book Blackout, on Iceland’s mountains, is inspired by the northeast power outage of 1965 when over thirty million people in Canada and the US were suddenly left without electricity. ‘You know where you are. But where is everything else?’ asks science writer Oliver Morton, who wrote the accompanying text for the book. And maybe this is what mountains have to do with blackouts: while watching them one loses its sense of scale.
In 2010 Holdsworth took a series of photographs of Iceland’s mountains and he reversed the colours. A black glacier becomes snow white, the light sky becomes pitch black. And every here and there one can spot a patch of bright red plants. It doesn’t even look that much different from what one imagines Iceland looks like, expect that these photographs are not of ice, but of dark rocks that are made to look like ice.
With its black and grey woven cotton cover the book invites its reader to a dark visual experience. The large size (29 × 33,5 cm) makes it easier to step inside Holdsworth’s landscapes. You try to imagine what you see, you try to measure the landscape’s depths with your eyes. You’ll fail, but neither the book nor the mountains care.
Blackout is available for sale on Steidl’s website.
- Reviewed by Nora Uitterlinden