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The New Topographics - Euro style

Maximilian Haidacher's photos take in European cities, the Alps and model villages
Maximilian Haidacher with Magdalena Fischer, Alpenrose


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Vienna based photographer Maximilian Haidacher is part of a new wave of photographers inspired by the work of Bernd and Hiller Becher, Stephen Shore and others who featured in the seminal 1975 exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape at the International Museum of Photography in Rochester, New York. The New Topographics became synonymous with the celebration of beauty in the man-made landscape.

"I find the work of photographers who have dealt with the same or with similar topics inspiring," Haidacher tells Phaidon. "I'm always amazed in how many different ways a subject can be approached."

Haidacher, who studied at the University of Linz, says his work is concerned with the relationship between man and nature. "I'm interested in how we design and modify places," he says. "How we get involved with our surroundings, how we change landscapes and environments to make them usable and liveable. In Vallées du Soleil [Un, Deux, Thron, Wild and Erz], I took a closer look at urban structures shifted into the wild for tourism, artificial urban places in high alpine regions."

Maximilian Haidacher
Maximilian Haidacher

His photographs have clean lines and colours as if the landscape has been constructed and perfected for him, indeed several of Haidacher's photographs - 9am To Sunset and Cervino - are taken in model villages which further play with the viewer's perception of place.

Meanwhile, Alpenrose, a series in collaboration with Magdalena Fischer who Haidacher studied with in Linz, addresses modern tourism in the Austrian Alps. "We tried to get (and give) an impression of things as they are, beyond all idyllic scenes of advertising pictures that are ingrained in our minds," Haidacher says. "We tried to look at things in an objective, documentary way, without judging what we found in one way or another."

In Tame, Haidacher travelled to numerous European cities to find examples of 'artificial nature' in urban space. "By 'artificial' I not only mean the synthetic or imitated, but everything that has been constructed, altered, domesticated or instrumentalised by man - a pseudo-nature, places like zoos, botanic gardens or parks; re-established forms of a natural world in our concrete, urban Lebenswelt [a world that subjects may experience together]."


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