Look behind you! Photographer snaps the 'wrong' side of iconic landmarks

2016-07-06 15:44 - Louzel Lombard
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Cape Town - While visiting the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo in 2012, photographer Oliver Curtis turned away and looked back in the direction he had come from... 

"After walking around the base of the tomb," he remembers, "with the pyramid behind me... Intersecting the horizon under a veil of smog, lay the city of Giza. 

"Immediately in front of me and under my feet, the sand of the desert was adorned with an assortment of human detritus - litter, pieces of rusted metal, a large rubber washer and a torn hessian sack. 

"Then, in the mid-distance, I saw a newly constructed golf course, its fairways an intense green under the late morning sun. I found this visual sandwich of contrasting colour, texture and form intriguing not simply for the photograph it made but also because of the oddness of my position standing at one of the great wonders of the world facing the ‘wrong’ way."

What he saw fascinated him so much that he has since made a point of turning his back on some of world's most photographed monuments and historic sites, looking at their counter-views and forgotten faces.    

Taken over a period of four years, Volte-face is an invitation to turn around and see a new aspect of the over-photographed sites of the world - "to send our gaze elsewhere and to favour the incidental over the monumental," Curtis says.   

Taj Mahal
Credit: Oliver Curtis

Looking at the over-shared selfies and shots of iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Taj Mahal, it's easy to forget that these attractions are also places of work, staffed by janitors, security guards, cleaners and office guards, who have a lack of awe born from daily exposure.     

Curtis says he "feels that despite the landmark not being present in the photograph, the images are still suffused with the aura of the construction".  

Buckingham Palace
Credit: Oliver Curtis

You can see a gallery of Oliver Curtis' Volte-face here: The 'wrong' sides of the world's greatest landmarks are captivating

The Volte-face exhibition will be published later this year at the Royal Geographical Society in London.

With the Pound at an all-time low, it might just be a great time for Saffas to go. If you'd like to go, here's the info: 

Oliver Curtis: Volte-face
Exhibition dates: Monday, 19 September – Friday, 14 October 2016  
Location: Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR  
Opening hours: Monday - Saturday, 10:00 – 18:00   
Admission: Free  

Mona Lisa
Credit: Oliver Curtis

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