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Photography

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INFERNAL DOMESTIC: HR GIGER BY CAMILLE VIVIER

HR Giger (1940–2014) is best known for the nightmarish creatures and environments of 1979’s Alien, and more broadly for his transgressive (yet deeply stylized and stylish) paintings on broadly “biomechanical” themes. Much of Giger’s work, which in addition to the paintings and drawings for which he was best known included sculpture, industrial art, and even furniture, was created in his Zurich home studio, which he transformed over the decades into a real-world embodiment of his aesthetic.

John Peck
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INVENTING GREENLAND

WITH A TOTAL population of 56,000 spread across a landmass twice the size of all other Nordic countries combined, Greenland’s overall density hovers at just over zero. The precursors to Greenland’s modern-day inhabitants were settlers both indigenous and European, dating back millennia and including the Saqqaq, Independence I-II, and Dorset cultures, as well as the Greenlandic Vikings who settled in the far south in 982 (led by Erik the Red). All these prior cultures and settlements, however, disappeared, leaving only archaeological records.

John Peck
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JUNKSPACE IN PASTEL: GEORGE BYRNE’S “POST TRUTH”

ORIGINALLY HAILING FROM Sydney, Australia, photographer George Byrne traveled extensively before finally settling in Los Angeles. The city became both his home and his subject (to the point of near-exclusivity, with rare exceptions made for Miami), and over the past decade he has developed a distinctive style and method, in which he digitally edits, alters, and blends photos into seamless, uncanny portmanteaus. The end result is a dreamlike series of bright, colorful locales that do not quite exist in the real world, appearing temporarily abandoned or forgotten, equal parts idyllic and abject.

John Peck
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ORTHODOX CHIC

The post-Soviet architecture of Ukraine is a complex and often fraught subject we’ve frequently explored on this site. Kyiv’s Osnovy Publishing is at the forefront of documenting the Soviet architectural legacy, as well as its newfound vernacular architecture, via numerous books that illustrate the patchwork approach to building and city planning in Ukraine since 1990. Its Chic series in particular – which began with 2019’s Balcony Chic, and now continues with Orthodox Chic – offers a deadpan view of the motley, often improvised constructions that define the modern Ukrainian cityscape.

John Peck
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ANTARCTIC RESOLUTION: DOCUMENTING A THAWING WORLD

Antarctic Resolution, a monumental new “1000 page study of Antarctica’s architectural, historical, ecological and climatic peculiarities” from Lars Müller Publishers, traces the history of the southernmost continent from the early “Heroic Age” explorers up through the present. The book sets out to map the world’s least-known continent in numerous ways: cartographically, to be sure, but also chronologically (in both human and geological scales) and sociologically. Via dozens of essays and hundreds of maps and photos, the book creates a multidimensional model of Antarctica, with contributions from a diverse group of experts in science, history, ecology, architecture, and even art and literature. The essays are grouped into thematic chapters with unusually vivid and evocative names for a science-focused book (“Antarctic Pie”, “Twenty-Six Quadrillion Tons of Ice”, “The Ideological Use of Relics”), which serve more as prompts for creative thought than strictly organizational designations.

John Peck
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DREAMING IN CONCRETE: CODY ELLINGHAM’S “DANCHI DREAMS”

ORIGINALLY FROM NEW Zealand, photographer Cody Ellingham traveled to Tokyo on a scholarship in 2012. He ended up staying for six years, and while exploring the country’s staggeringly vivid and varied cityscapes he began photographing danchi, the massive public housing projects built in the aftermath of WWII. Like many such postwar projects in both the Soviet bloc and Western Europe, danchi took a core utopian vision and expanded it into vast, blocks-long megastructures capable of housing thousands. And, as is also often the case with utopian architecture, the decades since have not always been kind to the buildings themselves and those who depend on them.

John Peck
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CONCRETE WOUNDS: UKRAINE’S SOVIET ARCHITECTURE

THERE ARE FEW European architectural legacies more fraught than that of Soviet-era structures in the former USSR, and few places where this legacy is more divisive than Ukraine. In the decades since the dissolution of the USSR, Ukraine’s Soviet past – which, even apart from the devastation wrought by the Nazis, includes tragedies such as Stalin’s genocidal holodomor and the Chernobyl disaster – has remained a wound that refuses to heal. More recently, Russia’s 2014 annexation/occupation of Crimea and Donbass further inflamed tensions between Kiev and Moscow, and ensured the debate over the Soviet legacy in Ukraine would be poisoned for years to come.

John Peck
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SOVIET SEASONS

PHOTOGRAPHER ARSENIY KOTOV takes a hands-on, boots-on-the-ground approach to photographing his home country. His new book, Soviet Seasons, is the result of traveling vast distances across Russia and the former USSR, with the goal of showing “how beautiful and diverse are the cities and nature of this vast region at different times of the year.” For those outside the former Soviet Union, who could perhaps be forgiven for reducing its seasons to either “snow” or “not snow” with each spanning about half the year, the book reveals wonderful gradients of weather, vegetation, and daylight that accompany seasonal change in various regions.

John Peck
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