Rising over the towns of the UNESCO-listed Nord-Pas-de-Calais Mining Basin are terrils, or spoil tips, human-made hills of mining debris more than 450 feet tall. During my recent trip to France to screen The Area and participate in RDV avec la Ville, I expanded my Hauts-de-France Mining Basin series with aerial images that highlight their context. The following images are a few of my favorites.
After a string of years bouncing around the map, in 2017 I mainly traced the triangle between Minneapolis, Chicago, and France.
I spent most of my time teaching at St. Olaf and wrapping up The Area in Chicago, but I dedicated nearly two months to two different French projects. In January, I continued my “Resilient Images” residency in Hauts-de-France interpreting the character and identity of France’s former mining region. In August, I worked on a cultural heritage project in Paris, Hauts-de-France, and Normandy with Atout France. The next month, I returned to Hauts-de-France for talks, photography, and to open the residency show at the Centre régional de la photographie Hauts-de-France.
Back in the States, I showed a preview of my Resilient Images project at EXPO Chicago with the Hyde Park Art Center and then exhibited photographs from the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation at the Chicago Architecture Biennial and the National Public Housing Museum.
I did make time for a little other travel. I visited New York City twice with The Area to participate in the IFP Filmmaker Labs and briefly visited to southern California and central Indiana. At the end of the year I hopped back to Europe to hail the new year in Scandinavia. A good year.
I’m starting 2018 with the American debut of Hauts-de-France Mining Basin at the Hyde Park Art Center and “Urban Art and the Block: Film Screening of Selections from The Area.” In other projects, my book with Michael Carriere is closing in on a complete draft, and The Area should also be premiering soon — more about that shortly. Check the website or follow me on Twitter or Facebook for updates.
And now a few of my favorite photographs from 2017. Thanks for your interest, and Happy New Year!
See more from Hauts-de-France Mining Basin in my photography section of the website.
Screening scenes from The Area at IFP’s Made in NY Media Center.
Visit The Area‘s website for more information about the film.
Le Havre, France
Read more about Le Havre and Auguste Perret’s St. Joseph’s Church elsewhere on the blog.
New York City, New York
Solana Beach, California
Mixed-use buildings with residential towers overlooking Place Auguste Perret
A modernist city designed by Le Corbusier’s mentor, Auguste Perret, sits on the coast of Normandy. Le Havre’s concrete origins date to September 1944, when the British bombed the German-occupied city’s coastal plain. The assault almost completely destroyed the district and killed more than 5,000 people.
The commercial core of Le Havre in January 1945
(Image source: stitched panorama from the UNESCO Nomination, “Le Havre, the city rebuilt by Auguste Perret.”)
Rather than abandon the port city, the French government began planning for its reconstruction after liberation. From 1945 until 1964, the city’s core was totally reworked by a team assembled by Perret, yielding the singular city seen today. As with many modernist and brutalist developments, Le Havre fell out of favor towards the end of the 20th century before finding admirers in recent years. Perhaps the pinnacle of this recognition is the listing of the urban core as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2005. The designation recognizes the modernist area, with its standouts like Perret’s own Église Saint-Joseph and later structures like Oscar Niemeyer’s spectacular Maison de la Culture.
Now the city celebrates its concrete past and present, but this year it is also commemorating its 500th anniversary with more than a dozen art and architectural works installed as part of “A Summer in Le Havre.”
Earlier this month, I made a two-day visit to the city on behalf of Atout France and used my free time to visit some of the essential buildings of the reconstruction and the anniversary installations. I will publish additional images from the visit later, but these photographs are among my favorites.
Auguste Perret’s Église Saint-Joseph
Auguste Perret’s Église Saint-Joseph interior with Chiharu Shiota’s Accumulation of Power
Looking south down Rue de Paris towards Vincent Ganivet’s Catène de Containers
Vincent Ganivet’s Catène de Containers
Lang and Baumann’s UP#3, La Porte Océane
A resident in her cabana with Karel Martens’ Colors on the Beach
In their cabana with Karel Martens’ Colors on the Beach
Special thanks go to Eric Baudet and Atout France.
2016 was another year of travel, but unlike previous years, my explorations were more international than domestic: for more than two months I made work in Belgium, Ethiopia, France, Ireland, Japan, Northern Ireland, and the United Arab Emirates.
One month of that period was for a residency in the North of France and Belgium. The residency, “Resilient Images,” is a joint program launched by the Hyde Park Art Center and the Centre régional de la photographie Nord—Pas-de-Calais and supported by the MacArthur Foundation, the French Embassy, and Institut Français. I will be writing more about my project in a few months, but if you’re interested in learning a little more about what I’m doing in the North, you can read a little more about it in this short interview. The rest of the summer, I continued my project about Eleventh Night and the Twelfth in Belfast, photographed in Tōhoku and showed photographs at Gallery Tanto Tempo in Japan, toured Ethiopia with friends, and visited with guest workers in Dubai.
But I also did some domestic travel, including for a show in Buffalo, New York at Dennis Maher’s incomparable Fargo House and a screening of scenes from The Area at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee’s Mobile Design Box in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I also made brief visits to the area around Louisville, Kentucky and New Orleans, Louisiana. Of course, I spent plenty of time in Chicago, Illinois and Minneapolis, Minnesota, which finally feels like home.
The other big project news is that after nearly five years, The Area is swiftly moving towards completion with Scrappers Film Group after a party and fundraiser in December. “Thank you,” everyone who attended and contributed!
I can’t possibly do justice to the places I visited in this short post, but I’ve included links to locations for which I made blog posts, and posted a few photographs from each site. If I authored a blog post about a particular visit, the section title is a link to the post.
To 2017! It’s going to be a busy one, isn’t it?
Resilient Images Residency in Hauts-de-France, France
Residents calling for their dog from their street.
Young immigrants play soccer in Brussels’ Molenbeek neighborhood.
Shankill neighborhood residents ignite their children’s bonfire.
Post-tsunami and radiation contamination remediation in downtown Tomioka.
The formal and informal Calais “Jungle” camps before demolition.
Two boys look down to their village in rural Tigray.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Scrappers remove kitchen counters from a partially demolished house.
Six new telescope house photographs I made while visiting for my exhibition.
The beginning of the Scrappers Film Group party and fundraiser for The Area at Lost Arts.
Overlooking the Ohio River and Louisville, Kentucky from Jeffersonville, Indiana.
A major clean-up effort in a North Side neighborhood.
The Minnehaha Free Space before it was displaced by a new landlord.
Four teenagers posing outside a corner store in the Lower Ninth Ward.
Louis Sullivan’s National Farmer's Bank of Owatonna.
A former church in St. Croix.