/15 Mountains

Dan Holdsworth


In Blackout Holdsworth focuses on Iceland’s southern landscape, a place dominated by glaciers permeated with so much basalt-black dust and grit as to be dark, not light. In this harsh, vast landscape where tectonic plates rip the earth’s surface violently apart and volcanic ash and glaciers collide, the detritus of the past is literally frozen into the present. These glaciers are, however, rapidly melting away, an event which acts as a powerful quantifier of the environmental conditions of our time. Inspired by the 1965 New York blackout, this series sees Holdsworth execute a double inversion, making black glaciers white to craft an alter-reality within the negative frame. This is a modern measure of time, a phenomenological encounter in which distortion of light heightens the other senses, disrupts awareness of duration, and compels us engage with the world in an entirely new way. His decision to abstract an already incomprehensible terrain enhances its alien qualities: black skies and a landscape that appears illuminated from within portray a place that is, geologically and conceptually, more akin to a lunar landscape than our own planet.

These images are a digital rendering of the technological sublime, documents of a planetary surface that confront us with the Other, shifting perspective and forcing us see ourselves anew. Disrupting the usual tempo- spatial measures of understanding the world, Blackout creates an ontological reawakening, projecting us beyond the parameters of the world as we know it and, at the same time, reminding us that this planet is changing faster and more dramatically than we can begin to comprehend. Cast in bright white, with dazzling streaks of colour, the critical energy of this indomitable wilderness burns onto our retinas.

Blackout is published by Brancolini Grimaldi/Steidl