Monday, May 07, 2007

Leo Fabrizio's Bunkers (and new stuff)

When we used to visit Switzerland we had a game as we drove along or walked the mountain paths - "Spot the hidden bunker". The more you looked, the more you saw. Switzerland is riddled with hidden and disguised military installations. What appeared to be a rock face in a lay-by beside the road were actually steel and concrete doors painted like rock. That 4 lane highway actually converts to a runway with the hangar doors hidden in the cliffs beside it. The cute looking little chocolate box mountain chalet you are hiking towards has machine gun slits on closer inspection.

A while back, Swiss photographer Leo Fabrizio produced a fascinating book - Bunkers - documenting these:

"The photography of architecture and of landscapes are pedigreed disciplines up for critical review and boundary breaking, with artists finding opportunities for personal expression and idiosyncratic documentary projects. Leo Fabrizio takes on a curious hybrid of the two: Swiss military bunkers that are hidden, camouflaged, set into outcroppings and otherwise concealing or baffling them from the sights of invading forces. Due to Switzerland’s geographical situation and neutrality, the necessity for the bunkers is intrinsic; their wholly defensive stance produces structures that are functional, but whose function is also perceptual. Ladders, doors and locks suddenly materialize out of stone; heroic bulks of rock and concrete look like the lairs of giants, not cowering humans. The dual purposes of the bunkers— to withstand penetration while also obscuring their mass—are sometimes at odds with each other. There is also the danger of working too well, and friendly forces missing their existence, as one bunker with red arrows pointing toward the portal seems to indicate. But these are only one kind of bunker; there are also structures in plain view (sometimes in urban areas) that look like outbuildings or residences with no military value. Many are totally ingenious, and the photos have to be scrutinized and interpreted, imparting a light tactical responsibility to the viewer that most projects can’t. When the artificial and natural are engineered to overlap, it is the structures that seem totally subsumed in the land which are the most successful. And the more puzzling, engaging and oddly beautiful the photographs of them are". Alan Rapp

I was just put on to Fabrizio's site by Fred Fichter across at streetphoto. There is a lot of new work up (btw Fabrizio's site is under "reconstruction" - it's worth looking at his old site, which has a lot more images and series on it)

Dreamworld is (I think...) about new urban development in Bangkok and Thailand.

Laos seems to be looking at massive rural construction projects in that country.

BTW, I'm not sure if you can still get the Bunkers book? His site says it is sold out. Photoeye seems to have some copies


Stan B. said...

If you like Bunkers, you may want to check out Modern Castles by Jonathan Olley...

Anonymous said...

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