Chemical plants and copper mines ooze toxins through the Polish landscape. Captured while piloting a gyrocopter and paragliding, Kasper Kowalski's aerial series Toxic Beauty explores the surreal aesthetic quality of industrial damage.

“What interest me the most are intersection points of society and nature,” Kowalski says. “It is where interesting things happen: disorder in harmony, emergence of new forms.”

It's also where heaping salt processing waste covers fields and the production of pigments, fertilizers and ammonia leaves deep tracks in the earth and alien hues in the water.

Kacper Kowalski

Photographer

   

Trained as an architect, Kowalski walked away from that career to pursue his twin passions: photography and flying. In February, he was honored with his third prestigious World Press Photo award (for Best Long Term Project) and in March, his book, Side Effects, was named as a Finalist in the Picture of the Year International competition. His "Above and Beyond" show at the Curator Gallery in NYC is on view through May 30th.

Paragliding over artscapes of industrial waste. Image 1.

An aerial view of trees surrounded by industrial tailings near the grounds
of the Police Chemical Plant SA, a major producer of fertilisers, pigments, ammonia and urea.

Kacper Kowalski / Panos

Paragliding over artscapes of industrial waste. Image 2.

An orange crane shifts waste from the salt producing process in Inowroclawskie Zaklady Chemiczne Soda Matwy (Inowroclaw Chemical Plant Soda Matwy).

Kacper Kowalski / Panos

Paragliding over artscapes of industrial waste. Image 3.

Waste from the salt production process of the Inowroclaw Chemical Plant.

Kacper Kowalski / Panos

Paragliding over artscapes of industrial waste. Image 4.

Waste from the salt production process from Inowroclaw Chemical Plant.

Kacper Kowalski / Panos

Paragliding over artscapes of industrial waste. Image 5.

Waste from the salt producing process at the Janikowo Sodium Plant 'Janikosoda S.A.'.

Kacper Kowalski / Panos

Paragliding over artscapes of industrial waste. Image 6.

A flotation tailings, the waste left over from the copper mining and extraction process, at a reservoir belonging to KGHM Polska Miedz SA at Iron Bridge Lake.

Kacper Kowalski / Panos

Paragliding over artscapes of industrial waste. Image 7.

An aerial view of waste generated during the copper mining process in a flotation tailings reservoir belonging to KGHM Polska Miedz SA.

Kacper Kowalski / Panos

Paragliding over artscapes of industrial waste. Image 8.

An aerial view of the grounds of the Police Chemical Plant SA, a major producer
of fertilizers, pigments, ammonia and urea.

Kacper Kowalski / Panos

Paragliding over artscapes of industrial waste. Image 9.

Waste water pumped out from the gas-fired Zeran power plant operated by Vattenfall Heat Poland
at Bialoleka.

Kacper Kowalski / Panos

Paragliding over artscapes of industrial waste. Image 10.

A flooded gravel pit near the town of Sandomierz. Due to heavy rain, the Vistula River reached its highest level since 1860 causing widespread flooding meaning the whole town had to be evacuated.

Kacper Kowalski / Panos

Paragliding over artscapes of industrial waste. Image 11.

A coal storage depot in the port of Gdansk.

Kacper Kowalski / Panos