Bojan Mrđenović — our photo of the week.
Hold off on booking your getaway — this dreamy, deserted island is not a island at all, and is actually a very deceiving waste disposal site, which Mrđenović documeted as part of his series Imported Desert. “The disposed matter is phosphogypsum, by-product of fertiliser production from a phosphate rock. Fertilisers are produced to make to plants grow better and faster, they are used to enhance food production,” Mrđenović told The Calvert Journal. The site is located near the town of Kutina in central Croatia. The town, Mrđenović asserts, would not have existed if the industrial complex had not been built there, and provides employment for locals.
“The factory grew up and got modernised in the socialist era. At this moment it has an uncertain future due to issues of deindustrialisation and globalisation, the decrease of fossil energy use, privatisation etc,” Mrđenović explains. The photographer is originally from the town of Virovitica, but visited Kutina for its local amaeteur photographers’ association. “When I became interested in the region as a photographer, I was concerned with exploring how the presence of industry shapes the environment — what are the visible traces of this influence?”
When it came to deciding on how best to present this landscape, Mrđenović was instantly drawn to the narrative potential of abstraction, inspired by the very landscape he was trying to shoot. “I was thinking how the layers of the subject would settle in my (or viewer’s) mind, like a stratum of white matter at the disposal site,” he says.
Viewers usually draw their own conclusion on the location of these images, and some are sorely disappointed with the truth. “The Adriatic sea is usually the first reference. The revelation that it is a disposal site is usually followed by a certain disgust. However, I hope that the impression doesn’t revolve around like or dislike. I would be happier if it provoked the idea that what we see is not always what we think we’re seeing, and some speculation on how we construct the idea of beauty,” Mrđenović dwells.