From 1998 on, I traveled the deserts of the American West. A dusty trip through a scorched land of super malls, road side religion, violence, nuclear fall out, ground zeros and unfriendly skies. The halo of modern times arose at the horizon as a frightening fata morgana at every turn. At White Sands Missile range, New Mexico, I photographed an Inter Continental Ballistic Missile swirl up the sky, heading for a virtual enemy in Wyoming, with the same apparent trivial pettiness of a smoke ring from a cigarette. I photographed the Department of Energy’s Nevada Test Site, about 85 miles Northwest of Las Vegas, where nuclear weaponry has been experimentally blasted to smithereens, transforming the landscape into the cratered surface of a faraway planet.
When my wife Tanja got pregnant, we settled in Cherry Creek – a former mining town in the high desert of Nevada. At this place of about 30 cowboys, misfits, hermits, drunks, rednecks and hippies, we improvised a shelter out of rock, dead trees and recycled junk. Doing odd jobs for locals: cutting firewood in the mountains, watering and feeding livestock, repairing roofs, etc, is how we got to know the locals, and the locals got to know us.
I photographed our life there, making portraits of the locals: Scary Jerry in the scorched remains of the house he had respectively constructed, and then accidentally burned down one cold night in winter, when he left the door of his wood stove wide open while he fell asleep – shit-faced drunk. I photographed Red, showing off his Ruger 44 magnum revolver, which he got from his wife as an anniversary present (she passed away years ago). I made photographs of Thurman on white lightning – the small motorbike he was forced to use in order to be able to move around, since was constantly being troubled by a herniated disc.
We moved to the wilderness of British Columbia, Canada in 2004. A place among grizzly bears, moose and mountain lions, far away from grocery stores, electricity, phone, television or neighbors. Weeks would pass without seeing anyone. We became a crowd of four when baby Sid was born. To get to the nearest town, we drove for hours through mud, snow or ice. I started photographing other people who had to spend lots of time in their vehicles. A Native family from a first nations reserve going to town on Friday. A priest giving a sermon in a small church in a remote valley. A couple who couldn’t afford the rent of their apartment anymore and were now actually living in their car. A guy slowly dying on a parking lot. Another guy traveling to see his sick brother on the other side of the continent. This became TRANSVOID (awarded World Press Photo, and other international awards)
Since 2010 we live and work in Chile, South America. In addition to creating new, personal work, I am setting up The Bunker foundation – a residency for international artists, photographers, filmmakers, writers, philosophers, biologists, archeologists, astronomers, etc. in the North of Chile.