In fall of 2013, David Maisel was invited to Spain as part of the photographic project ToledoContemporánea, in which 12 photographers were commissioned to create work about the Spanish city of Toledo as a commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the painter El Greco’s death.
Maisel’s work is his response to the areas between the city of Toledo, which was once the cultural epicenter of Europe, and the much larger capital city of Madrid. One feels that the worlds of painting and photography have merged together. Roads and highways denoting human impressions streak across the land in lines and loops like aerial tapestry; the photos at times appearing to reflect blocks of opaque glass, a slow-moving gray river, or at times a child’s playful doodle.
The series is based on three different areas of the Spanish landscape:
Borox: Strange, ashen landscapes in a mining and agricultural region of La Mancha, south of Madrid. The soil is laden with the mineral borax, which gives a surreal, ashen quality; the landscape shines, almost like a grey sea in a desert.
Fuensalida: Croplands in the La Mancha region, gridded, crosshatched, and abstracted.
Vicalvaro: Developments on the periphery of Madrid, where construction was halted after the economic collapse of 2008. The abandoned zones appear like the surreal aftermath of a bombed out city or an alien landing field.
All photos by David Maisel/INSTITUTE