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Steel Giant

“When it comes to architecture, we often speak of a ‘concrete jungle’, but this abandoned location is a real ‘steel jungle’. The impressive color palette has been called ‘50 Shades of Rust’ by a journalist who saw my work at the PAN Amsterdam art fair.”

Jan Stel, Steel Giant-01

Steel Giant-01

Jan Stel, Steel Giant-02

Steel Giant-02

Jan Stel, Steel Giant-03

Steel Giant-03

Jan Stel, Steel Giant-04

Steel Giant-04

Jan Stel, Steel Giant-05

Steel Giant-05

Jan Stel, Steel Giant-06

Steel Giant-06

Jan Stel, Steel Giant-07

Steel Giant-07

This massive steel-producing plant feels almost like something from another dimension. Its sheer size, height and intimidating feel overshadow the small city in the background. In the absence of the noise of steel-producing activities, the deafening silence buzzes with left-over energy. Due to much cheaper steel production in Asia, a lot of European steel companies have become superfluous.

The location is stunningly beautiful with its impressive display of subtle, rusty colors and dazzling structures. The interplay of shadow and light that filters in through gaps in the roof makes it different every time it is photographed. Thanks to the bright October sunlight reflecting off the concrete floor, the atmosphere inside lights up. This warm glow makes it look like the plant is still actively melting ore and producing steel. There are seemingly endless construction halls and huge machines, connected by a maze of pipes. Finally, there are the unforgettable, 3.5-meter-high melting pots which from a distance look like dirty cups of coffee.

“It was amazing to spend almost an entire day inside this giant facility and see the warm colors change to a cold blue when evening fell. When combined with the heavy machinery that is still in place, the inviting ambiance slowly became creepy. I have no fear of heights, but the uppermost floors of these steel works made me feel very small and dizzy. Climbing down from the upper levels became even more dangerous as I was rapidly surrounded darkness with only a small flashlight in this cavern of desolation. The next day I had to go inside again, to explore some other unseen parts of the location. Security was checking regularly for copper thieves and unwanted trespassers like me. I had seen them walking through the lower levels but luckily they never spotted me. It’s difficult to get an official permission to photograph these sites because of the risks involved. And if permission is given, one is only allowed to walk along the common, safe paths. From these paths its not possible to see the scenes my eyes want to experience or capture the photographic images I want with my camera. I have many years of experience and I do not behave like an unsuspecting tourist. I will always take precautions and watch out for warning signs and unsafe circumstances.”

8TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL COLOR AWARDS 2015
THE EPSON INTERNATIONAL PANO AWARDS 2013