From one angle, the volcanic mountain of El Teide on the Island of Tenerife - one of the Spanish Canary Islands - juts up into the horizon from the barren, ashen landscape in Meike Nixdorf's photographs, from another the same mountain sits behind lush greenery.
“Like pieces in a puzzle, every image from In the Orbit of El Teide holds different visual aspects of the same subject,” says the Berlin-based photographer. “But unlike a piece in a puzzle, each image appears to stand on its own. And it is only through looking at these images one-by-one that one realizes how much more information, visual aspects, perspectives or stories-to-be-told there are to just one single mountain—or any subject matter, basically.”
Meike Nixdorf’s work explores perspective, documenting a subject from different angles as it draws out stark contrasts and thoughtful comparisons. Her recent project In The Orbit of El Teide - where she circled the volcanic mountain of El Teide, photographing it from different perspectives - got her spotted by New York magazine’s photo editor Leonor Mamanna after it was featured on the blog This Isn’t Happiness.
"The project focuses on the question of what can be seen, or how much information can be gathered from only one single point of view versus the information, visual or abstract one could gather by orbiting an object, question of focus point,” she says. “In this way, two different points of view of the same subject matter could differ in their look or feel tremendously and might not even be recognised as the same subject matter anymore.”
Nixdorf’s other projects have seen her explore similar themes of contrast created through altered perspectives. Her 2010 series Once I Left The World Behind saw her documenting an island in the Baltic, where land met ocean; and her Point of View series (2006-2009) saw the photographer exploring different points of view on the same subject.
The photographer often uses a Mamiya 7 rangefinder camera with a wide-angle lens. “I am very much about what is going on in the foreground," she says, "and the 6x7 format makes it possible to include a lot of foreground while still shooting in a landscape format. Also with a rangefinder camera it is very easy to move around and look at things from multiple angels - a key issue in my work.” Nixdorf usually shoots negative film and the highly stylised effect is created in retouching, her partner, Grit, adds in colour grading and radiation in post-production.
Meike Nixdorf’s work will be featured as a night projection during Photoville in Brooklyn New York next month.
If you enjoyed Meike Nixdorf's views of the Tenerife landscape, you might like Phaidon's new book The Sites of Ancient Greece, which offers a birds-eye perspective on some of the contry's most famous and evocative landscapes, cities and buildings.
A Visual Inventory
Land and Environmental Art
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