American Winter



The work of Gerry Johansson (b. 1945, Sweden) is incredibly straight and pragmatic. Operating outside of the context of contemporary photography, he carefully constructs an objective view of a geographic location. Since the 1990s, he has published books on Sweden, Germany, Tokyo and others. For American Winter, he travelled through some of the least documented States during the winters of 2017 and 2018. Winter suits him well, with its deserted streets, diffuse light and blankets of snow offering the ideal conditions for his quiet photographs of rural emptiness.

At first sight these photographs might look random, but they are carefully composed, perfectly aligned, and deliberately devoid of life. Johansson seems to be as interested in the graphic qualities of the medium as in the documentary aspect. In small, square and grey images, Johansson explores lines, planes and contrasts while capturing the stagnation of progress in semi-deserted towns in the forgotten centre of the United States. The location is provided with each image, but they could easily be interchanged.

In that sense, Johansson’s photographs are placeless and timeless. Although they’re decades apart, his deadpan documentation of rural America is not dissimilar to that of the New Topographics. This group of photographers, brought together by an exhibition at George Eastman House in 1975, were particularly interested in the man-altered landscape. One of them was Lewis Baltz (1945-2014, United States), who captured anonymous architecture, like parking spots, garages and concrete walls. Baltz and Johansson share a fascination with the anti-fascinating, the very mundane and interchangeable found everywhere but never found worthy of being photographed.