Mojave | High Desert Crossings

In his photographic series Mojave - High Desert Crossings (2005-2008), Markus Altmann presents a range of different locations in the MojaveDesert, which stretches from Los Angeles all the way past Las Vegas. Also referred to by locals as the "High Desert", this region is markedby military use, mining and the aviation industry. In recent times, new housing developments have sprawled out here as well, beckoning brave commuters with the prospect of affordable homes beyond the peripheryof the city.

Large format color photographs lure viewers into getting lost in the details of these vast landscapes. Situations observed from a distance, a view of the seemingly endless, steel blue sky, cryptic signs on amilitary airplane: the empty landscapes gradually fill up with life and impressions the photographer juxtaposes against the ideas and expectations he had upon the start of his journey.

Altmann's photographic vision is thus not distinguished by the searchfor something, but rather alludes to an element of discovery, of almost accidentally having stumbled on to something. Upon closer look, what first appears as a documentary approach proves to be a subjectively charged description of places and situations which, to some extent, relate quite subtle details: parked cars in front of a diner that turnsout to actually be a Japanese sushi restaurant at second glance; a cowboy riding along a paved road who, upon closer inspection, one sees is really talking on his mobile phone. The stage-like locations in Altmann's photographs thus serve as a projection screen for different visual worlds characterized by familiar elements from movies and literature, all updated in the present time in the Mojave Desert.

Narrative elements are often consciously incorporated in the images. As a whole, they point to current social conditions with a charming wink of the eye, offering no definitive answer to the questions raisedin the pictures. Altmann's desert crossings become a journey along the tracks of the great American dream. This trail reveals itself along theway before parts of it disappear without notice, only to re-form onceagain within the vastness of these landscapes and places marked by the hand of time.

Sabine Schr√ľnder