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Exhibition at the Montanha Pico Festival, Azores Portugal

Glaciers Landmannalaugar is selected as a finalist 🙂

In case you travel to the Azores, don’t miss out on the Montanha International Photography Exhibition 2019!

The announcement of the winners, one for photography in Portugal and one for mountain photography around the world, will be announced in 2019. The exhibition is open until May at Foto_Galeria, opened for visit 24 hours in the Fire Hall of Madalena, Pico Island.

On World Mountain Day, December 11, MiratecArts presented its programming for the coming months, including the photography exhibition for the Montanha Pico Festival. The official selection of 20 finalists at the Montanha International Photography Contest presents the work of photographers from Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, the United States of America, the Philippines, the Netherlands, Iran, Russia and Portugal.

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Glaciers Landmannalaugar.
Glaciers Landmannalaugar – OFFICIAL SELECTION
Concurso Internacional de Fotografia Montanha
Montanha International Photography Contest 2019

 

#miratecarts #montanhapicofestival #mountainsmatter

A sad before and after, what happened to my favorite city forest?

As a landscape photographer, I want to find and photograph nature in (almost) pristine spots or places that have escaped urban or rural planning. When I return to a place that I’ve photographed before, it happens seldom that it has changed for the better. Many times, once beautiful places are gone forever due to greed of mankind.

wh vliegenbos
Before: What the city forest used to look like in June.

WH Vliegenbos in Amsterdam used to be a small city forest with a wealth of biodiversity. After a brutal attempt to make the forest more attractive for visitors, it looks like a mutilated city park. The once rich undergrowth has been removed and the forest is ‘thinned’ of larger trees to give more light to smaller trees. This affects the bird population since smaller trees lack good nesting opportunities. With removing the undergrowth small animals – like hedgehogs – are disturbed during their hibernation and left homeless.

After: a mutilated city park in January

Toxic waste

New cycling paths have been laid, which in itself is no that bad. As a base for the asphalt layer, toxic building waste is used containing plastic and other pollutants.

Toxic building waste, soon to be covered with asphalt and to be removed by future generations.

Why is this happening?

Before: a wealth of biodiversity

Why do people want to make a forest neat by cutting and growing it again? For millions of years nature could do very well without us. I suspect the city of Amsterdam is using park maintenance as an excuse to make money by selling wood as bio based fuel. To quote John Muir* “God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fool”.  I hope that my favorite city forest will recover in the years to come.

After the carnage: why do people cut trees first and put this pathetic little one back?

* A Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States His activism has helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and many other wilderness areas.

 

 

My first urban explore and Irma’s file

Some people call it trespassing, other call it urban exploring: making pictures in abandoned buildings. I’m always fascinated by the often erie appearance of empty houses. It makes you wonder why the people left, their stories and the past.

Abandoned Soviet era spa
Abandoned Soviet era spa

During my trip to Georgia I came across and abandoned Soviet era spa at the Black Sea coast. I couldn’t resist to take a peek together with my youngest daughter and we went past the rusty fence. The main building was a gloomy hotel. What used to be the lobby, was filled with rubble.

Inside the main building
Inside the main building

On the second floor was the former restaurant. From the outside you could still see the tables and chairs. When I walked up the round stairs, I was spotted by someone who might have been a caretaker and was asked to leave. Being shooed away by angry men is also part of urban exploring I guess.

I decided to check out the nearby pool. Back in the 1970’s the pool was probably luxurious. I could imagine Communist Party members swimming back and forth, while in the adjoining rooms people got their massages and other spa treatments. Nowadays the pool is filled with mess and instead of the typical chlorine smell of a pool, the odour of pee and dung is abundant.

The pool
The pool
Staircase
Staircase
The former massage parlour?
The former massage parlour?

In one of the rooms that could have been an office, there were scraps of destroyed files and one forgotten file (number 566) on a former employee that was still intact. A certain Irma from Kobuleti worked here in 1988 as a cleaner. From the pages ‘AHKETA’ (questionnaire in English) we learnt that she was a member of the Communist youth movement (Komsomol), that her mother was an agronomist and her father a kolchoznik. She and her family had never traveled abroad. Irma was 20 the she got the job, although she had an education as a nurse.

AHKETA
Irma’s file

We left her file were we found it and left the crumbling pool before dark. The next day we went back and rescued Irma’s file from oblivion.