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Guido Baselgia: Hochland

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Guido Baselgia: Hochland Hatje Cantz, 2001. 96pp. £45. (Available from Art Books International 020 7720 1503)

The brief accompanying essay to this well-produced collection of Guido Baselgia's photographs quotes a poem (by Fabio Pusterla) with the startling line 'Erosion will eradicate the Alps'. Baselgia's hochland , or high country, is the Engadine in Switzerland and in his images it does indeed seem to be disintegrating, as mountainsides are gouged and fissured, and snow retreats to leave a wasteland of scree. A few of these photographs are conventionally (if bleakly) picturesque: Alpine panoramas in the tradition of the sublime. As a rule, though, Baselgia extracts a detail from the larger scene, eliminating the horizon and flattening the image so that it starts to approach abstraction, sometimes confusing you as to your distance from the subject (close-up or far away? ). But the textures of ice, snow and shattered rock are always tangible. This is landscape at its rawest, where man's interventions - stones heaped into a wall that is now collapsing back to its origins - seem largely irrelevant.

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