Peter Mitchell, Rencontres d’Arles 2016
A NEW REFUTATION OF THE VIKING 4 SPACE MISSION
Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity are still rattling across the Martian landscape, turning over rocks and ploughing the sand-drifts hoping against hope that a micro- scopic speck of life will turn up and convince us that we are not alone in this galaxy.
In the mid-seventies, the stationary Viking Landers were the first to land on planet Mars. Though the alien landscape was magnificent, there were no canals or skeletons or wind-blown ruined dwellings or sand-filled swimming pools.
Today, not a single trace remains of Viking Landers 3 and 4. But myth (and conspiracy theories) have it that an alien survey was commissioned of planet Earth (possibly triggered by reverberations from the fate of viking Lander 4), remnants of which have been captured and published from time to time.
Oddly, the photographs show no great wonders of civilisations. However, a certain monotonous, low-level aesthetic pervades the images with a degree of continuity, suggesting that these things are common. In the Earthly vernacular these photographs’ are of Nowheresville. Yet, for some people, they are the centre of the universe’. Usually they call it Home.
Rudi Thoemmes with Peter Mitchell
The exhibition was originally presented at the Impressions Gallery of Photography, York, in November 1979, and curated by Val Williams. For this edition of the Rencontres d’Arles, we have reconstituted the original exhibition.
Praise to Rudi Thoemmes, Sheila Ross, Education Gallery, Leeds; Julian Spalding, Graves Gallery, Sheffield; Sue Grayson/Aaron Scharf, Serpentine Gallery, London; Val Williams, Impressions Gallery of Photography, York City; and Martin Parr.
Prints by Ian Breckin, Silverstone Leeds.
Digital by Marl & Chris at CC Imaging, Leeds, and George Lowe Engineering, Leeds.
Framing by Atelier Boba et Circad, Paris.
Exhibition venue: Grande Halle.