The eerie, sexy, desaturated world of Poland’s Szymon Brodziak.
words by Kari Hendrick photos by Dersu Rhodes
H.P. approached us on his burrow, two brown eyes peeking out from under his leathered, weathered cowboy hat and a dusty bandana wrapped ominously around his face. I say “his” – but it’s still unclear weather H.P. was a man or a woman, boy or girl. His conversation seemed childlike, and eager, but his presence was wise, as if he’d been roaming the desert for years. “Don’t you want to know what H.P. stands for?” He asked us as we inquired of his roots and stroked the mule’s dusty back. Without much thought, we said no. This place has a mystery about it that’s alluring – and we wanted to keep it that way. Welcome to the slabs. A desert mound of creation and bizarre beauty.
The slabs is tucked along the Salton Sea in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Far different from the posh setting of the seventies, when actors and high class alike would go to party for days – now looks like the after party never cleaned up. Glass bottles literally adorned in trees, and collections of tin cans and televisions have become artistic sculptures. It’s the perfect setting for a post apocalypse movie. Abandoned buildings, and fortresses made of tarp, tires, weathered textures. The people that inhabit the area aren’t hippies, per say. More like squatters, or desert dwellers. Minds who are completely anti-gov and set far apart from the creatives of our society.
As the dust swirls around our booted ankles, and the wind pushes us forward, we continue to explore each camp, and the desert sun starts to set. The white trailers glow pink and endless strings of Christmas lights begin to flicker on. The eeriness keeps you there, wondering what happens when the sun goes down. It feels dangerous, as places you don’t know usually make you feel. But from our initial conversation with H.P., we know that this outside land is a community, a creative and a world that, in a way, we can all relate to. From a distance, we see the dark shadow of H.P. sitting high on his burrow, as he saunters into the dusty sunset.
A moment with H.P. we’re not sure where he’s from, or where he’s going.
Sadly, Leonard Knight has been moved to a Nursing Home, he had become very ill and no longer could watch over and build the Mountain he spent a large part of his life making. Here is his hanging bed, we found a picture by Aaron Huey showing Leonard laying in his hammock from a few years back. The empty resting place still has one of Leonard’s books lying where his head must have after a long days work. The book looks to be unfinished, or maybe has been read 100 times.
A view of the slabs from the top of Salvation Mountain.
Leonard’s creation, Salvation Mountain.
Where Leonard slept. His old jacket still hangs, and his paintings still give life to this old truck he made his home.
Charles Russell turned a desert landscape into a curated gallery. He died this last May and his ashes sit on a shelf overlooking the art he devoted himself to creating. His friends and fellow artists still take up residency here, creating and maintaining the East Jesus Camp.
Charles Russell still resides. His ashes sit in an urn to the right.
Nilland, California is the closest town to The Slabs and has one hotel. Some of the doors don’t have keys for them but it’s a temporary home for folks that need a rest.
The Slabs residents are friendly but mysterious.
Came across this series by Steven Meisel and was immediately intrigued. What a strange mash up between mental rehabilitation and high fashion. Models featured are Agyness Deyn, Denisa Dvorakova, Guinevere van Seenus, Irina Kulikova, Iselin Steiro, Lara Stone, Masha Tyelna, Missy Rayder, Sasha Pivovarova and Tasha Tilberg.
See more of Stevens work here.
We came across Robyn ‘s work a few years ago and became fans immediately. Not only does she seem to constantly surround herself with amazing settings; British Columbia Wilderness, Hawaiian Islands, Desert Landscapes, but she also has a consistant cast of absolutely astounding people to photograph all of the time. There is a love hate relationship that takes place when looking at her images, love for the moments she captures, her relationship with her subjects, the way seems she to catch a time and place intimate and special or ferocious and powerful. There is a hate as well, or maybe to use a less strong word, envy, for the way her photography makes us long to be at the beaches, jungles, rain forests, or the Playa of Burning Man. The bottom line, Robyn Penn is a Genius, watch for her. We can’t wait to see where she goes next, who she will photograph, and what moment she’ll capture.
Without further delay we present Burning Man, through the lens of Robyn Penn.
For the full experience click on the photos to make them larger, it’s definitely worth it.
Where you from and where do you live now?
born in New Zealand, grew up in Victoria BC, live in Maui. started taking serious photos or taking my photography seriously when i moved to maui and couldn’t work legally.
being an illegal alien turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it kind of gave me permission to take something ‘less serious’ seriously.
What got you into taking photos?
i studied biology in university… a ‘steady for sure thing’ with a promising future… and photography was just something i did on weekends. it took almost a decade, and a move to maui to admit that i was in love… passionately in love. a fleeting romance had progressed to the point where i had to make a commitment and focus (neither of which come naturally to me) and it was time to bring it home to meet my mom.
Who inspires you?
my family and friends. i am blessed with incredible parents.. they have always provided me and my siblings with the perfect balance of supportive roots and a rich environment and space to cultivate our craziest ideas/dreams.
i am surrounded by inspiring people and there is such a contagious quality to being around other people who are inspired in their own lives.
what inspires you?
sensuality… human chemistry… the way people interact with each other or their environment.
If you were going to direct a film what would it be about?
sensuality and human chemistry
Where is your special place? why?
underwater. i find it very comforting… probably because that’s where we all began. i think that its the closest my inner reality comes to matching my physical reality… i very much exist inside my mind;)
whats a typical day in the life of Robyn Penn?
that depends where i am… my typical day on maui is simplistically (or maddeningly) simple.. consists of getting up, making coffee, editing for a couple hours, getting in the ocean, surf/run/sup/bodysurf/sail/swim/snorkle.. something active… i photograph most days.. surf, wedding, portrait, or whatever creative project i am in the depths of… watch a lot of sunsets, drink a lot of wine, host a lot of canadians.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive!” – Henry Miller or “A book should be sought after even if it has only one great page in it. We must search for fragments, splinters, toenails. Anything that has ore in it. Anything that is capable of resurrecting the body mind or soul.” – Henry Rollins
Who is the person you most want to photograph in this world?
i would love to continue photographing new people.
my desire to photograph a person stems from falling in love… discovering an aspect of a personality or person that i identify with inspires me to photograph them… hope that i keep meeting people that i fall a little bit in love with.
Visit her website here.
Visit her blog here.
A Danish duo creating simplistic photo magic in the 1970′s. Find out more about them here.
Tamara Lichtenstein continues to take sexy, simplistic, powerful photos. Visit more of her work here.
Damn you all look good, thanks for an amazing evening. Partying for a great cause in Venice.
for tons of more photos from the night head over to our facebook page here: Witness This Facebook Page
We were turned on to this tumblr site lately and can’t get enough. Pretty much speaks for itself. Check out more from Accidental Chinese Hipsters tumblr site here.