During the pandemic, I was lucky to spend a few months in Tenerife, which gave me the opportunity to extensively explore the diverse beauty of the largest of the Canary Islands. In that time, I developed a strong emotional connection with the island, and have returned several times since then.

Tenerife has a unique character, made even more special by its numerous contradictions, bestowing the island with a quality that’s undoubtedly fascinating, though disturbing at times.

The main contributing factor to its aesthetic outlook is its extreme diversity, the tension between the rather dry south with the lush north and its different microclimates, from barranco to barranco, valley to valley.

To this you must add Its unique topography: high mountains mainly in protected areas often fall steeply into the sea, rough and deep canyons cut through its landscapes, challenging settlement, agriculture and urbanisation in many parts of the island.

At the same time, almost a million inhabitants (as of January 2022) and 5 million tourists every year, both figures on the rise, lead to heavy urbanisation and sprawling developments in the non-protected, liveable regions of the island. In April 2023, more than 800.000 vehicles were in circulation in Tenerife.

This bodes a series of questions: how can the island cope with the increasing numbers of residents and tourists? How will it deal with climate change? And what measures can be introduced to limit the effect of global warming within the constraints of limited space, mass tourism and heavy reliance on cars?

My way to document all the above (besides the high mountains and protected areas, fortunately), was to photograph the highways that split most of the island, taking pictures from each side of the 97 bridges crossing them.

The highways are the main connections between the prosperous North and the arid South, giving the observer an impression of the different climate zones and their specific colours and vibes, by successfully overcoming the well-documented topographic challenges of the island. They connect the urban to the rural, the man-made with the naturally spontaneous: They shorten distances, bridge gas, support development, bundle traffic and, in turn, intensify it.

The project offers a tour around Tenerife to the beholder, but from a different point of view: in sharp contrast to popular images, the photos bring about a minimalistic and industrial, yet realistic view of the island, faithful to its true essence.

2021,2022 – Fujifilm GFX50R