Bluewater: Field of Dreams ; with His Heroically Bleak Vision of Modernity, Dan Holdsworth Is an Emerging Force in British Landscape Photography. Words by Robin Muir

By Muir, Robin | The Independent (London, England), November 4, 2000 | Go to article overview
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Bluewater: Field of Dreams ; with His Heroically Bleak Vision of Modernity, Dan Holdsworth Is an Emerging Force in British Landscape Photography. Words by Robin Muir


Muir, Robin, The Independent (London, England)


In the photographs of Dan Holdsworth, 25, the everyday meets the epic in sweeping and vertiginous detail. His vistas and panoramas treat heroic themes for a new millennium: human isolation, for one, in the face of mass production and technological advancement. Nothing new, of course, if you're European, particularly German (think Fritz Lang's Metropolis and Andreas Gursky at the Serpentine). But in the hands of this homespun practitioner from Middlesbrough, its scale is impressive, lively and pan-European for all the peculiar Britishness of much of its setting.

By concentrating on vignettes of architectural creativity at its most banal, he gives us moments of sublime absurdity, never better expressed than in his photograph The Malpas Footbridge, shown earlier this year. Constructed to enable a farmer to herd his livestock safely across his farmland, it is a glorious moment of nonsense at Junction Two of the M4 - a modern urban vision of what a rustic cattle way should be, repeated up and down swathes of the English countryside. Rus in urbe inverted. "I find myself," he says in explanation, "searching on either side of these `zones of transit' for signs of life, for rarely have I seen a bridge in use ... Who uses them? Are they objects of state, municipal, or corporate control, or conduits to private experience?" Each of Holdsworth's panoramas is governed by its own formal logic and each stands alone. He enjoys the vastness of the environment seen from a distance - the better to allow us to wonder at the insignificance of human figures caught there. If only there were any to be found .

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