Christian Nolle





A portfolio by Christian Nolle

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I landed at Heathrow in the autumn of 1999 on a Scandinavian Airlines flight from my hometown of Aarhus, Denmark. The flight was mostly empty, and the route was soon discontinued. The airport was, and to some extent still is, an extraordinary place—a point of departure and arrival for adventures beyond the fence. This project explores the area around that fence.

I have distant memories of passing through the place in the 1980s on a layover with Olympic Airways. My dad bought us food in kroners and the waitress paid us back in pounds. The place felt international; unexplored continents just a single trip away, the currency interchangeable.

The Spectacle

At one end of the small concrete platform, someone was sheltering from the rain under a metallic gray umbrella that almost perfectly merged with the sky. Once upon a time, the yellow-painted metal stands that stood in the middle of this reinforced surface would each have been home to binoculars, but these are now long gone. Kids and adults alike would have gazed through them, admiring the planes landing and taking off in the distance. Behind us, figures move around inside the glassed control tower. Their eyes are fixed on the airfield. From up here, we share the same space and the same vantage point, and that feels special even if they can’t feel the rain on their backs.

East of Heathrow is most built up, with the occasional park and playground, but west of it, it is very green. It's here that I came across an abandoned sofa with a bright floral pattern one July day. There was this small opening, and the planes were coming in overhead. It was sort of perfect. All I had to do was wait and hope that the weather and the plane would align. And they did.