In his photographic series Mojave - High Desert Crossings (2005-2008),
Markus Altmann presents a range of different locations in the Mojave
Desert, which stretches from Los Angeles all the way past Las Vegas.
Also referred to by locals as the "High Desert", this region is marked
by 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 periphery
of 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 a
military 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 search
for 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 turns
out 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 raised
in the pictures. Altmann's desert crossings become a journey along the
tracks of the great American dream. This trail reveals itself along the
way before parts of it disappear without notice, only to re-form once
again within the vastness of these landscapes and places marked by
the hand of time.