It seems fitting to give Pétur Thomsen a mention now, since he is one of the finalists for this year’s Sovereign European Art Prize. His series Imported Landscapes portrays the construction of the very controversial Kárahnjúkar Hydropower Project in the Icelandic highlands. It’s a very restrained series, especially considering the enormous schism the project caused within the Icelandic nation.
I very much like how Thomsen leaves value judgement to the viewer and the photos are breathtaking in how they use the forms of the man-touched wilderness. It’s a great combination of fine art and documentary photography. If you’re like me, doubtful about the Kárahnjúkar project (please note that I said “doubtful” and not vehemently opposed or in favour, like most Icelanders seemed to be), you might dislike the aspect of those photos which could be said to glorify the might of man over nature. However, the theme of man’s fight to subdue nature is one subject which will always get me to give a photo a second look. Thomsen’s photos are not without a certain poignancy but that feeling conflicts with my sense of awe in the power of man. That’s not a bad thing and especially when the power of man might be very misguided.