This is a scene from the legendary Minecraft computer game: an excerpt from a 3D world which, although made up of simple cubes, allows players to enjoy infinite creative freedom.
While the pixelated landscape is reminiscent of the past and its utopia at the dawn of the digital age, it also addresses the virtual spaces of the present in which we find ourselves venturing more and more often, and in myriad ways, especially now that we are denied access to public social spaces, or a future that raises all sorts of questions, particularly with regard to our stewardship of the natural environment that surrounds us.
Our campaign’s second theme photograph depicts the Mir diamond mine in Siberia, just outside the town of Mirny, some 820 km from the capital Yakutsk. With a depth of 525 m and a diameter of 1,200 m the mine isone of the largest excavated holes in the world and a conspicuous example of mankind’s intervention in nature. In its heyday, Mirnywas producing up to 10 million carats (2,000 kg) of diamonds a year. After decades of intensive overexploitation under extreme climatic conditions during the Soviet era right through to the fall of the Iron Curtain and beyond, the open-pit mining operation was finallyshut down in 2001; the site has been operated exclusively as an underground mine since 2009.
The third and last photograph in this year’s Festwochen campaign features an abandoned cinema set in the desert of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The brainchild of a wealthy French entrepreneur, it was planned for the start of the millennium, but even the official opening of this extravagant open-air cinema turned into a fiasco. The screening of the first film had to be called off, and the cinema’s150 wooden seats were simply left behind, stranded in the desert landscape, conveying an apocalyptic vision of a natural landscape abandoned by mankind.