Cities of desire, is a first presentation of an ongoing project about the North Sea and its economical landscape.
The harsh conditions on the North Sea make the offshore industry almost the ultimate symbol of man overcoming nature. Artificial cities of concrete and metal in an apparent empty sea. They leave a lot to the imagination.
After decades of prosperity and activity the North Sea landscape is changing. The low oil and gas prices, the exhaustion of wells leaving some of the platforms abandoned. Questions about the future arise. Are we looking at monuments or places of new possibilities?
The pictures where taken during a two weeks residence at the maintenance ship Kroonborg (NAM), and are combined with archival material from different offshore operators. The series shows photographs of North Sea platforms printed on sheeted steel. Sometimes from up-close, sometimes they seem to pass by. The horizon shifts up and down in the pictures, the scratched and printed steel that the images are printed on come to life in the sunlight and suggest a previous usage. There is a film of a solemn platform with the only movement coming from the sea as if time has no hold on these structures.
The exhibition and work title references Italo Calvino’s Invisible cities. In this book Marco Polo talks with Kublai Kan about his travels. While speaking of imaginary cities, the conversation expends like a game of chess. The descriptions of these Invisible cities act a metaphor and comment on modern day life. They encompass both the emotional as the mathematical, and show a sense of fear and longing. Thoughts that seemed very appropriate to the project.
All images ©Tanja Engelberts