Rory Gardiner

Clean and crisp snaps from the Tate Modern-commissioned photographer makes for some eerie atmospheres

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Rory Gardiner’s work shows an apocalyptic world, with muted colours and little to no life. It is barren but stunningly beautiful. With a commission from the Tate Modern and his work being exhibited worldwide, he is getting a great response. Gardiner remains modest though, he doesn’t even see his work as art. Neither is he trying to comment on the world; he just enjoys looking at it.

I guess I’ve always been drawn to the aesthetic context of a place or structure. By stripping away the temporary and extraneous contents you are left with a kind of distorted unreality

Dazed Digital: Your photographs are so clean and crisp. Almost clinical. Why are you drawn to this style of photography?
Rory Gardiner: I guess I’ve always been drawn to the aesthetic context of a place or structure. By stripping away the temporary and extraneous contents you are left with a kind of distorted unreality.

DD: Who or what has influenced/inspired your work the most?
Rory Gardiner: Spaces, buildings, materials, architects. My father is an architect so that has obvious implications. Geoffery Bawa’s work in Sri Lanka really impresses me. Libeskind, Ando, Goldfinger. Also a movie written by John Hillcoat and Nick Cave called ‘Ghosts of the civil Dead’ is pivotal reference point for me. I must have seen it 20 times.

DD: Do you travel a lot?
Rory Gardiner: Yep. I get itchy feet quickly so it’s always been a major priority for me. I’ve been quite lucky lately as most of my travel has been paid for by someone else… photography has a lot of perks.

DD: Tell me a bit about one of the places you have photographed.
Rory Gardiner: I lived at the northern tip of Japan for a while. It’s a pretty hostile landscape. There is this underlying sense of foreboding about the place that lingers with you. I think it carries forward through the people there which really shows in their buildings; this kind of resentment or resistance towards the harshness of their surrounds. At one point I ran out of petrol in the middle of nowhere with no reception. It was minus 20 Celsius and it took about 12 hours before anyone found me. It’s just an unforgiving environment for a human to exist in.

DD: Upcoming plans and projects?
Rory Gardiner:
 I’ve got a joint show happening at a west London gallery in October and it is looking like there is a second commission for the Tate Modern in the pipeline. I moved to London 18 months ago and since then I’ve been photographing the architecture built here in the 60s and 70s. Subsequently there is a looming backlog of negatives sitting in the studio waiting to be sorted. I seem to be making work more quickly than I can deal with at the moment. Russia is high on the agenda at the moment too.

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