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Gerry Johansson

American Winter

Thinking back on the American landscape pictures I remember, surprisingly few are winter pictures. Understandable, because winter photography is troublesome in many ways, but the rewards can be rich. The sunlight is merciless and penetrating with blinding reflections and long shadows. The overcast days are murky and depressing. The storms are creating temporary landscapes that will change from day to day.

Thinking about America you mostly think about it as a land of eternal summer. But the movie Fargo, by the Coen brothers, moved me to see the misery of american winter. Endless highways with blinding snowdrift covering everything except some tyre marks leading straight into nothing. Beautiful, terrifying and hopeless. The snow both hides and reveals the ugliness and beauty of the landscape and villages. The nakedness lets everything be visible. The landscape is transparent and everything is open to be seen. In the half deserted small towns it is clear that the America that once was great is long gone. The Main Street had its period of glory a hundred years ago and perhaps a revival in the fifties. The beautiful school brick buildings, in art deco architecture, build in the twenties and thirties, are now standing empty with plywood covered windows. At best serving as community halls, for the few inhabitants, a couple of times a year. The climate preserves abandoned houses and cars parked 50 years ago. There is a feeling of despair and hopelessness. The tradition of just leaving everything behind leaves you surrounded by failure.

Photographs from the book American Winter published by MACK, 2018.

The pictures are made in Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado in the winters of 2017 and 2018.