Andreana Scanderbeg and Alexander Sauer travelled to a secluded airport in California’s Mojave Desert to realise their DECOMMISSIONED project. They arrived to witness huge aeroplanes surrounding the airport runways, waiting in the searing desert sun to fill one with the impression of having given up all hope of better times. This compulsory stopover marks the sad end to the lives of many aircraft; a temporary visit that becomes a terminus station, a boneyard. SCANDERBEG SAUER have taken photographs of these dying aircraft and turned them into a metaphor for the economy’s disturbing dependence on oil.
SCANDERBEG SAUER took to the silence of the desert for this project, to a place were no hectic activity surrounds the jets in preparation for their next flight, no lively atmosphere fills the departure lounges and neither international arrivals touch down nor departures start skywards. The aura of the big wide world rests with the millions of kilometres the aircraft have left behind them and their existence now endures in the past and history of each machine. These discarded aircraft have reached their last parking position and will remain forever grounded – childhood heroes waiting in the hot, dry air to be stripped and scrapped. Is the dream of flight already over? For how much longer will we be able to board a plane with such implicitness? Is the end of boundless mobility approaching quicker than we could ever have anticipated?
This is a completely different side to the modern industrial society which SCANDERBEG SAUER normally photograph in their commissioned works. Although the images are perplexingly close to the collective understanding of an aircraft, a second glance reveals significant differences: instruments, navigation equipment and engines are missing; some of these huge metal constructions are lacking undercarriages and sit propped up on timber planks, many are reminiscent of open sardine tins. They are aircraft that, in the last stage of their lives, have become precious and coveted spare parts stores.
SCANDERBEG SAUER’s deliberately chosen views have breathed new life into these eviscerated aeroplanes and, fascinating as these metal giants are, the nauseating thought of ‘Peak Oil’ is thrust to the fore. It is time to rethink and to search for alternatives. The aeroplane’s carcass in its final resting place signals impending and fundamental social upheaval… Air travel of the past made distances shrink; will we now have to find future ways to bring us closer together?
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