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Photography

Saturated Neon Hues Veil Snowy Landscapes in Photos by Maria Lax

April 18, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Maria Lax, shared with permission

Known for experimenting with an assortment of in-camera techniques, photographer Maria Lax transforms quiet, nighttime vistas and frozen forests into fantastically colored dreamscapes. She’s always been fascinated by the interplay of light and color, she tells Colossal, and following formal training in cinematography, has developed a distinct style that vividly interprets the outside world.

Lighting and filters produce the kaleidoscopic range that overlays Lax’s images, and the London-based photographer is conservative with equipment. “I often shoot in remote locations in difficult conditions—some of these images were shot in temperatures reaching -30 C,” she says. “I work mostly by myself when I am on location, which means my kit is relatively minimal and nimble so that I can carry it on my back even on longer hikes through the snow.”

If you’re in London, Lax is showing new photos from April 19 to 24 at Open Doors Gallery, where she also has limited-edition prints available. She’s currently in progress on a second book following her monograph, Some Kind of Heavenly Fire, published by Setanta Books, and you can explore an archive of her work on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Ritualistic 'Moon Drawings' by Yuge Zhou Etch Patterns in Snow and Sand

February 10, 2022

Grace Ebert

January 2021. All images © Yuge Zhou, shared with permission

“In traditional Chinese culture, the moon is a carrier of human emotions,” writes artist Yuge Zhou. “The full moon symbolizes family reunion.” This belief grounds Zhou’s meditative series of landscape drawings that etch wide, circular patterns in the beach along Lake Michigan and in snowy parking lots near her apartment.

The Chicago-based artist postponed a visit with her family in Beijing back in 2020 and has since channeled her longing to return into her ritualistic performances. Filming aerially at dawn, Zhou traces the patterns left by the moon with her suitcase and allows the glow of nearby light poles to illuminate the concentric markings. Stills from the videos appear more like dreamy renderings than footage, an aesthetic choice that corresponds with their allegorical roots in the Han dynasty legend, “The lake reflecting the divine moon,” about the universality of longing.

Having created five works in summer and winter, Zhou likens the pieces to “mantras suspended in a time of waiting.” Until she’s able to return to China, she plans to add more drawings to her collection and continue “bringing the moon down to me on the earth.” For more of the artist’s multi-media works, visit her site and Vimeo.

 

February 2022

January 2020

July 2020

February 2022

August 2021

 

 



Photography

Dramatic Ice Formations Mimic Unearthly Creatures Frozen in the Harz Mountains

February 4, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Jan Erik Waider, shared with permission

Hamburg-based landscape photographer Jan Erik Waider (previously) climbed the Harz Mountains in northern Germany last week in search of the otherworldly figures inhabiting its highest peak. A thick coating of ice transformed the evergreens and other vegetation at Brocken, the summit at an elevation of 3,743 feet, into towering beasts and monster-like characters that appear to wander the frozen tundra. “I like the muted sounds and the seemingly endless variations of gray that come with fog,” he tells Colossal. “I can wander for hours as the winter landscape changes and recomposes itself almost every minute.” Pick up a print of Waider’s Mountain Creatures and see the rest of the series on Behance. You also might enjoy these fantastical menaces.

 

 

 



Photography

Sunlight Caps the Snowy Meili Mountain Range in a Majestic Photo Series

December 14, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Rainlook, shared with permission

Soaring more than 22,000 feet above the landscape, the frigid Meili mountain range sits at the edge of Yunnan’s Deqin County in the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and borders the phenomenal “Three Parallel Rivers,” a UNESCO world heritage site where the Jinsha, Mekong, and Salween each run alongside each other but never converge. The imposing landmark, while steeped in cultural and historical significance, is majestic and sublime in its own right, features Shenzhen-based photographer Rainlook captures in a new series. Taken around 6 a.m., the images are shot when the first break of sunlight shines on the snow-streaked terrain, casting the mountain peaks in an ethereal glow while leaving the rest in nighttime shadows. We’ve gathered some of Rainlook’s photos here, but you can see the entire series on Behance.

 

 

 

 



Photography

Majestic Photos by Michael Shainblum Frame Yosemite National Park through Rainbow Mist and Thick Fog

March 17, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Michael Shainblum, shared with permission

New photographs by Michael Shainblum (previously) capitalize on the grandeur of Yosemite National Park and cast it in an ethereal light. Shot in winter just after a dusting of snow, the series is serene and dream-like and spotlights the details that sometimes are lost in the vast wilderness: rainbow mist envelops a waterfall, dense fog hangs among a mountain top, and the warm glow of golden hour radiates across a rocky ridge.

Go behind-the-scenes of Shainblum’s visit to Yosemite in this video, and pick up a print in his shop. See more of his candy-colored landscapes and photographs capturing nature’s most majestic features on Instagram.

 

 

 



Photography

Staggering Photos Capture a Frozen Apartment Complex in Vorkuta, a Dwindling Russian City That's the Coldest in Europe

March 15, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images licensed, © Arseniy Kotov

Photographer Arseniy Kotov is dedicated to documenting the changes in Russian life and architecture since the fall of the USSR, a commitment that brought him to the coldest European city last February. Located about 110 miles from the Arctic Ocean, Vorkuta is a small mining town that once held one of the largest and most grueling forced labor camps during Stalin’s reign. Often plagued by temperatures as low as -45 degrees Celcius, the city now has one of the fastest dwindling populations in all of Russia.

During Kotov’s visit, he toured various housing complexes built for workers, many of which were abandoned when the mines closed. One building in particular, though, is evidence of how desertion continues to unsettle the once-thriving city, an ongoing problem that Kotov captured in a stunning series. His photographs frame the dilapidated, five-story structure that’s entirely subsumed by feet-long icicles and mounded snow. Relics from former residents and the chipped, blue paint peek through the frost, much of which clings to the stairs and banisters and climbs the walls.

 

Kotov tells Colossal that often, buildings are transformed into similarly chilling caves when pipes burst due to lack of maintenance, leading to splashes of hot water, subsequent high humidity, and then ice growth on every surface. At the time of his visit, one family remained in the Severniy-district building, which was still connected to the central heating system that runs through Russian cities, making it easier to pass through some of the walkways thanks to warmth from the radiators. Although Kotov wasn’t able to meet the sole occupants, he did hear that they moved not long after his tour, saying:

As I know, locals said that after one week as I visited this building, he and his wife were resettled to another apartment, and this whole building was cut off from all the communications (water, heating, electricity). This is a usual story in Vorkuta: as less and less people are left, it becomes unprofitable to heat an entire building, and people are gradually moved to others where there are more inhabitable apartments. Local authorities call it a “managed compression strategy.”

Many of Kotov’s photographs are compiled in Soviet Cities: Labour, Life & Leisure, and his second book, which is full of images he captured while hitchhiking around the country, is slated for release in November. Prints are available from Galleri Artsight, and you can follow Kotov’s sightings and travels on Instagram.