Jan Staller 04.08.11

Jan Staller became fascinated with construction sites as a young child. Now 58, he has turned this fascination into a haunting body of photography. But although his work focuses on man-made landscapes, these aren't the industrious environments of, say, Edward Burtynsky – they're abstract, unearthly, poised outside context.

"The kind of qualities I see in construction sites are sculptural," says Staller, who cites the monumental land artists Michael Heizer and Robert Smithson as influences. "They were all working with these industrial materials ... Their works sensitised my aesthetic to the potential of construction sites to resonate beyond their workaday functions."

Part of the eeriness of the photographs stems from their desertion. This is a product of circumstance – Staller tends to visit the sites after hours – but also a choice, to make the images more formal than journalistic. "One thing that I require of my work is not just to simply be descriptive," Staller says. "I don't want to say, 'This is what construction is about,' I want the photograph to transcend that ... it's interpretative, I want to express rather than describe. To have a worker there would root the thing more in procedure."

But despite their stillness and depopulation, these scenes are charged with a sense of transformation and impermanence. They are simultaneously monumental and transient, caught between states, ambiguous moments in time balanced between progress and decay.




Jan Staller





Leave a comment

Click to show