“Landscapes framed. European Photographic Missions, 1984-2019” at ICO Museum Madrid

The exhibition and the book that accompanies it gather eight long-term photography missions carried out in Europe from 1984 to 2019. These projects were promoted by public or semi-public institutions of different countries, regions and European cities, and counted with the involvement of several dozens of photographers.


Gabriele Basilico Le Tréport (Seine Maritime), 1985 Serie Bord de mer, Mission photographique de la DATAR. Biblioteca Nacional de Francia. Imagen cortesía del Archivo Gabriele Basilico, Milán


Curated by Frits Gierstberg and organized by the ICO Foundation in collaboration with the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Brandenburgisches Landesmuseum für moderne Kunst Cottbus und Frankfurt, the Brandts-Museum of Art & Visual Culture, the Regional Center de la photographie Hauts-de-France, Linea di Confine per la Fotografia Contemporanea and the Zurich University of the Arts / Institute for Contemporary Art Research. The sample is framed within the PHotoESPAÑA19 programming.


“Landscapes framed. European Photographic Missions, 1984-2019”
6 June – 8 September, 2019
ICO Foundation Museum
C/ Zorrilla, 3 Madrid


These missions have in common the reflection on the landscape in transformation through the work of the photographers, although they differ a lot in the way of doing it. When the photographer has carte blanche, he can interpret the landscape with complete freedom. However, the approach can also be very defined and instrumental, such as when it comes to visually investigating how the notions of national or regional identity are reflected in the landscape, or to submit the reality to a check that answers the question of what the landscape is really like in situ, or how the landscape, in their day to day, they experience, see and use the people who live and work in it.


Gerry Johansson. Kropp, 1991 Misión Ekodok-90, Suecia Cortesía del fotógrafo. Imagen cortesía de © Gerry Johansson.


“The landscape is culture. It is the expression of a living community and the sediment of the way that community has had to shape its existence. Or, as the influential American landscape painter John Brinckerhoff Jackson said, landscape is history made visible, “says Frits Gierstberg, curator of the exhibition.


Bernard Plossu Sin título, 1992 Serie Route Nationale 1. Mission photographique Transmanchen°. 10, 1992 CRP / Centro régional de fotografía Hauts-de-France. Imagen cortesía de Bernard Plossu


The major transformations of the European landscape during the 1970s and 1980s were largely due to the decline of heavy industry and the closure of mines. On the other hand, the rapid growth of the service economy and mass tourism, and the increase in mobility in general, required significant adaptations of the landscape. Technological innovations changed traditional agriculture and, with it, also the landscape, which from then it housed other crops, and on a much larger scale.


Joachim Richau. Escaleras junto al puente del río Oder, mayo de 1995. Serie La isla de Kietz cerca de Küstrin, 1994. Misión Fotografie und Gedächtnis [Fotografía y memoria], Alemania Brandenburgisches Landesmuseum für moderne Kunst Cottbus und Frankfurt (Oder). Imagen cortesía de © Joachim Richau

Michel Kempf. Sin título, 1989. Serie Autopista A26 Calais-Reims. Mission photographique Transmanchen°. 2, 1989 CRP / Centro régional de fotografía Hauts-de-France. Imagen cortesía de © Michel Kempf


The progressive decline of traditional agriculture resulted in a migratory flow to the big cities, while their centers were emptied and peripheral neighborhoods emerged.

In many large cities, the consequence was an exponential growth of the outskirts. The French project of the DATAR, in the eighties, was an important source of inspiration for other promoters of photographic missions on the landscape. Its incidence is explained both by the ambitions and the magnitude of the project, as well as by the cast of photographers selected to participate in it. The DATAR was a special initiative of an agency official whose objective was the ordination of the territory. The planning of the photographic missions responded, among other things, to the awareness that future changes in the French landscape would have drastic consequences for a significant number of people.


Ralph Hinterkeuser. “Estamos aquí”, Seclin, 2001. Serie Lille Metropolis. Mission photographique Transmanche n°. 25, 1991 CRP / Centro regional de fotografía Hauts-de-France. Imagen cortesía de © Ralph Hinterkeuser.


The exhibition shows the work of almost sixty photographers, accompanied by the numerous publications that were published in the context of the selected missions: Mission photographique de la DATAR (France), Mission photographique Transmanche (France), Linea di Confine per la Fotografia Contemporanea (Italy), Ekodok-90 (Sweden), Fotografie und Gedächtnis [Photography and memory] Germany), Long-term photographic observation of Schlieren (Switzerland), RO_Archive (Romania) and Places. Denmark in transition (Denmark).


News source: Fundación ICO
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