gardens of oblivion
2009 - 2013
Situated at an altitude of 850m ASL on the island of Crete and surrounded by mountains, the Lassithi plateau is a place of sheer beauty. The remains of wind-pumps, are scattered all over the plateau. A ghost glimpse of the old glory when 13,000 of these white-sailed pumps dominated the view, producing over 5MW of power. This abandoned wind farm was created in the 50’s by the farmers wanting to harness the low wind potential so as to irrigate the fields. Born out of necessity and not an outcome of an elaborate long-term economic and political planning, as modern wind farms are, it became one of the first farms of this size in the world. At that time, wind pumps were considered expensive and the Agricultural Bank financed many farmers and the debt was usually repaid within two years. Most of the plateau wind-pumps were active until the early 80’s when they were replaced by the hassle-free diesel and electric pumps. Although cultivation is still present, for the elders of the plateau, the wrecked wind pumps are a constant cause of grim thoughts.
We first visited plateau on a day trip in 2008. While driving through the maze of the dirt roads, we came across an enchanting land. For the next years, the plateau became a photographic fixation. Winters are harsh, cold and very humid, unlike the weather in the rest of Crete. Wondering among the fields, at the crack of dawn, we witnessed the plane turn to a theatre stage. The first light and often the mist, changes the old windmills into actors performing in their own drama. Since we had never experienced the plateau former glory, we were intrigued by this strange post-agricultural scenery. While photographing, we often felt a child’s joy, as if in a fairy-tale, when the hero finds a door giving to a world hidden at the back of his closet. This series of humanless B/W photos are an attempted testimony of the secret life of the plateau.