Austrian photographer Gregor Sailer (b.1980) invested a great deal of research in finding ‘counterfeit’ villages around the world, which he consequently captured with his analogue plate camera. The fake facades and sceneries – usually constructed for political, military or economic purposes – blur the line between illusion and reality. Towns that appear to be located in the Middle East were in fact built in the Mojave Desert as training centres for the US army. In the same vein, Sailer photographed a fake airport and underground rail network in Germany, designed to be used for anti-terror exercises. A fake row of houses in Sweden serves as the backdrop for a vehicle test track. The photographer also travelled to China to document meticulously executed replicas of European cities – which, however, very few Chinese citizens wish to inhabit.
Sailer’s images – all of them entirely devoid of people – veer between the unsettling and the ludicrous, taking the viewer into a surreal world of artifice and elaborate deception. Walking the tightrope between illusion and reality, the artist intelligently highlights the absurdities of our time, which is increasingly defined by fake news and artificially constructed environments.
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