Photographer Gregor Sailer captures ghostly images of hidden areas no one can visit


The Austrian photographer Gregor Sailer is known for taking analog images in both large (4 × 5″) and medium (6 × 9 cm) formats with a Sinar p2 view camera. He uses lenses with focal lengths of 65, 90, 150 and 210mm It makes for distinctive and eye-catching work and he uses this technique in his new photo book Unseen Places.

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From inaccessible landscapes and sealed off territories to military restricted areas, these photos show surreal architectures on the fringes of human civilization. Typically, Sailer’s photos are deserted and the buildings look like sculptures. Whether it’s climate change, political conflicts or just an exaggerated need for security, Sailer’s images show the dynamics that lead to the existence of these haunted places.

EastGRIP I, Northeast Greenland Ice Sheet, Ice Core Project, 2019. From the series The Polar Silk Road © Gregor Sailer and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022



EastGRIP I, Northeast Greenland Ice Sheet, Ice Core Project, 2019. From the series The Polar Silk Road © Gregor Sailer and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Military Facility V, Norwegian Armed Forces, Andøya, Norway, 2020. From the series The Polar Silk Road © Gregor Sailer and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022



Military Facility V, Norwegian Armed Forces, Andøya, Norway, 2020. From the series The Polar Silk Road © Gregor Sailer and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Complexe de Tir en Zone UrBaine II, French Army, France, 2015. From the series The Potemkin Village © Gregor Sailer and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022



Complexe de Tir en Zone UrBaine II, French Army, France, 2015. From the series The Potemkin Village © Gregor Sailer and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Subway II, Bochum, Germany, 2005. From the Subraum series © Johannes Naumann, Stefan Tuschy © Gregor Sailer and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022



Subway II, Bochum, Germany, 2005. From the Subraum series © Johannes Naumann, Stefan Tuschy © Gregor Sailer and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

This book, which follows on from previous volumes Closed Cities, The Potemkin Village and The Polar Silk Road, is a triumph of sheer determination. Gregor Sailer’s photos often require months of research and life under extreme conditions, such as e.g. B. persistent arctic temperatures of minus 50 degrees, in remote, inhospitable parts of the world.

In the accompanying text, Christoph Schaden describes Gregor’s approach. “Right from the start, his photographic working methods were characterized by concentrating and disorienting aesthetic strategies that, in combination with the gaze, know how to subtly amaze us. The human body is consistently left out, while the physique of the imaging technology remains the same: To this day, the photographer works exclusively with a professional analogue camera in large and medium format.

Rabouni I, Western Sahara / Algeria, 2010. From the Closed Cities series © Gregor Sailer and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022



Rabouni I, Western Sahara / Algeria, 2010. From the Closed Cities series © Gregor Sailer and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Mine I, Chuquicamata, Chile, 2010. From the Closed Cities series © Gregor Sailer and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022



Mine I, Chuquicamata, Chile, 2010. From the Closed Cities series © Gregor Sailer and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Tiefort City VIII, Fort Irwin, US Army, Mojave Desert, California, USA, 2016. From the series The Potemkin Village © Gregor Sailer and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022



Tiefort City VIII, Fort Irwin, US Army, Mojave Desert, California, USA, 2016. From the series The Potemkin Village © Gregor Sailer and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Hafelekar near Innsbruck, 2334 m, Karwendel Mountains, Austria, 2006. From the Ladiz series © Gregor Sailer and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022



Hafelekar near Innsbruck, 2334 m, Karwendel Mountains, Austria, 2006. From the Ladiz series © Gregor Sailer and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

“You can feel it,” Christoph continues. “The robust architectural structures elude access. They remain strangely enraptured, yet eerily present. As a result, they weigh more on us viewers than can be comfortable. “Because things happen there that have an economic and social impact on us.”

Unseen Places was edited by Verena Kaspar-Eisert and contains texts by Verena Kaspar-Eisert and Christoph Schaden. It is available from Kehrer Verlag for €29.90. There is also an accompanying exhibition at the Kunst Haus Wien in Vienna until February 19.



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