LIFE
FORCE
The magazine of the photo-essay
July 2017 issue
Closed Cities
“A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous!” Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film maker
by Gregor Sailer
In his highly impressive series, the Austrian photographer Gregor Sailer has investigated closed communities in Algeria / Western Sahara, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Chile, Qatar, and Russia. By means of refined architectural and landscape photography, he has succeeded in giving a face to these otherwise effectively invisible, artificially created urban agglomerations that are hermetically sealed off from the eyes of the world either by walls or by their hostile surroundings. His subjects are raw-material mines, military bases, and refugee camps, as well as gated communities for the wealthy. These temporally circumscribed forms of urban settlement succinctly reflect and reveal a historical turning point that the world is now experiencing at the turn of  the 21st century: dwindling resources, climate changes, political conflicts, and the wish for absolute security.
RUSSIA / Siberia / Yakutia / Mirny, the Diamond City of Russia, is extremely exposed in one of the coldest regions on earth just below the Arctic circle in the Sakha Republic of Eastern Siberia in northeastern Russia. It is constructed on permafrost soil directly at the edge of a giant open pit mine. The Mirny Diamond Mine is the deepest diamond mine in the world. The temperatures reach -65°C. The city is only accessible by air and strictly off limits to outsiders without a special permit. Ca. 40.000 inhabitants. @ Gregor Sailer
Mirny, the Diamond City of Russia.
Mirny, the Diamond City of Russia.
QATAR / Ras Laffan /  Industrial City on the Persian Gulf, Middle East. Founded in 1997. Population: 100,000 (only males). The temperature is reaching +65° C. Largest natural gas field in the world (Persian Gulf).
Ras Laffan.
Las Raffan.
Las Raffan.
ARGENTINA/ Tigre / Nordelta / Largest gated new town in Latin America. Founded in 1999. Designed and constructed for the wealthy. 12 neighborhoods. An artificially created world of illusions. 25.000 inhabitants. Planned to rise to 100.000 by 2020.
Nordelta.
Nordelta.
AZERBAIJAN / Caspian Sea / Oil Rocks / City on the sea. Largest offshore oil-drilling site in the world. In addition to the oil production plant, there is a settlement for workers with accommodation blocks, shops, cultural facilities, and a park. Road system is 200 km long. Buildings and roads constructed on piles, sunken ships and landfill. Founded 1947 under Stalin. Population: 5000.
Oil Rocks.
Oil Rocks.
CHILE / Atacama / Chuquicamata / Largest open pit mine in the world (length, 4.3 km; breadth, 3 km; depth, 1.2 km). Work force: 20.000. In 2008, compulsory resettlement of all 35,000 inhabitants owing to the intolerable living conditions, but primarily because of the vast ore deposits located directly under the town. This has since been buried under waste tips. The surrounding landscape has suffered from decades of pollution. For a long time, highly contaminated waste water was simply discharged into the desert.
Chuquicamata. Tenement blocks.
Chuquicamata. Stadium.
WESTERN SAHARA / Southwest Algeria / Tindouf / Refugee Camps / “The Forgotten War” Since the beginning of the 1980s, two thirds of the Republic of Western Sahara has been annexed by Morocco in violation of international law (cf. the ruling of the International Court in The Hague dated 16. 10. 1975). One third is a liberated area controlled by the Polisario Front. Divided by a fortified wall that is 2,720 km long; patrolled by 170,000 Moroccan soldiers and comprising several rows of ramparts 3–10 meters high, military bases, radar stations, bunkers, towers, infrared detectors, booby traps, and electronic security facilities. An area with one of the highest densities of explosive mines anywhere in the world. Population: 200,000 in total.
Tindouf Refugee Camps.
Tindouf.
Tindouf.
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