"At the age of ten I moved from the Swedish countryside to Paris with my parents, and the first thing I saw was the Charles de Gaulle airport. As a teenager I traveled a lot between Paris and Sweden, and therefore spent a lot of time at CDG. I was fascinated already then. The whole environment, the ambiance. It's really a fascinating airport. Like a fantasy landscape. . . . CDG is connected to a big part of my past, and also came to signify big changes in my life as a kid. But what made this project interesting as well is how the world, and maybe especially airports, changed after 9/11. They are no longer what they used to be. Before, they tended to represent freedom, possibilities, openness. Now they have come to be a place where fear is very strong." —JH Engström
This photograph, part of Swedish photographer JH Engström's series and book CDG/JHE (Steidl/GUN, 2007), which focuses on the Charles de Gaulle airport (flight code CDG), was photographed in color and printed using a special process that renders the print with a overall cast of gray, creating haunting monochromes. For this project, Engström spent three weeks isolated in an airport hotel, photographing the spaces and terminals of Charles de Gaulle. His images capture luggage carts, plastic chairs (as in this photograph), parking garages, and weary travelers. The series departs from the celebration of subjectivity that has defined much of Engström's work so far, and provides an almost abstract definition of the existential homelessness and displacement that is at the heart of Engström's work.
JH Engström (born in Sweden, 1969) was an assistant to photographer Mario Testino 1991 in Paris, and in 1993 assisted photographer Anders Petersen in Stockholm. In 1997, he graduated from the Photography and Film Department at Gothenburg University, and published his first book, Shelter (Bokförlaget DN, 1997). Among his other books are Haunts (Steidl, 2006), CDG/JHE (Steidl, 2008), From Back Home (together with Anders Petersen, Max Stršm, 2009), and Trying to Dance (Journal, 2004), which was short-listed for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize in 2005. He exhibits internationally and his work is held in collections both in Europe and the U.S.