What these artists all have in common is their interest in ambivalences: ambivalences in urban and social as well as physical and emotional spaces. Urbanity and landscape, especially the photographic reception of the landscape in the U.S., are points of reference here. In the 1970s in the U.S., the genre of landscape photography was newly rediscovered by various photographers like Stephen Shore, Robert Adams, Ed Ruscha, Nicholas Nixon, and Lewis Baltz. They directed their gaze to built landscapes, designed and destroyed by man: streets, warehouses, industrial plants, parking lots, and peripheries, and they did so in an analytical and complex manner, using an objectivizing visual vocabulary. In this way, they resisted the anecdotal and picturesque forms of expression favored by traditional American landscape photography of, for example, Edward Weston or Ansel Adams. They aestheticized the banal and confronted contradictory states: romanticizing beauty and ugliness, geographic expanse and industrial agglomeration.
The seminal exhibition “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-altered Landscape” (1975; George Eastman House; Rochester, New York) created a new genre within photography. “Basically, the photographers of the New Topographics applied a kind of practical knowledge to create images that are beyond a doubt objective. In terms of the logic of selection and references, indifference is an adequate parameter—quite stable in its symmetry, reflexivity, and transitivity.”*
All three artists share an interest in the traces of human influence on geographic and topographic paradigms of landscape. Alec Soth and Ulricht Wüst use the camera and black-and-white photography as their means of expression, whereas Natalia Stachon uses documentary photographic fragments, which she collages and then draws.
* from: Britt Salvensen, in: New Topographics, Texte und Rezeption, Ausstellung Köln / Linz (2010/2011), p. 43b