Posts Tagged ‘eco photography’

Terry Falke

January 17, 2011

I recently picked up Terry Falke’s Observations in an Occupied Wilderness at my local Powell’s bookstore here in Portland, Oregon, one of my many home towns. What a perfect place to find such a gem, Portland’s backyard is literally wilderness. Even the Portland metro area, starting with smack downtown, is home to some of the largest urban parks in the country, including remaining old growth forests. Strict urban sprawl restrictions during the environmental movement in the 60s has kept city limits restricted, and wild areas preserved. Portlanders and indeed Oregonians are an outdoorsy bunch, reveling in the wild that is their own backyard.

How had I not heard of Terry Falke before? To think that he walked in the steps of Robert Adams, one of my favorite landscape photographers, in initiating the most modern landscape movement, and here I was ignorant of his work. In a wonderful essay by Carol McCusker, Falke’s work is compared to that of the early environmentalists and conversations, both as the observation of beauty and plenitude in the landscape, as well as the fear of a dystopia that is all too real and possible. In Observations in an Occupied Wilderness, Falke travels around the American Southwest, his home turf, to bring us views and observations of several concerning juxtapositions; the grandiosity of the American western landscape coupled with our desire to “collect” it in the form of tourist viewing platforms, paved with concrete and lined with handrails. As the jacket so eloquently states, Falke photographs “the ‘improvements’ that position visitors within a landscape while simultaneously disconnecting them from it.”

The photographs are beautiful, quiet, eerie, yet not scary. They are a very subtle interpretation of man’s need to control nature, tame it, collect it, present it, and even replicate it. For more information and work by Terry Falke, visit AfterImageGallery here.


ECOAESTHETIC: The Tragedy of Beauty

June 15, 2010

ECOAESTHETIC is an annual summer experience of environmental issues affecting our visual world and spiritual selves through exhibitions and special events.

ECOAESTHETIC: The Tragedy of Beauty is the first exhibition of SEA to be mounted in Exit Art’s main gallery. In keeping with SEA’s mission to present artworks that address socio-environmental concerns – and to unite artists, scholars, scientists and the public in discussion on these issues –ECOAESTHETIC will establish a summer encounter of social and environmental projects. Through the work of nine international photographers, it approaches the mystery of beauty in the natural and built environment, which can be destructive or utopian.

The Tragedy of Beauty will focus on photography of land where the tragedy of the image becomes the aesthetic of the environment. The artists in this exhibition do not have a passive engagement with the environment; rather, they seek out beautiful and tragic images to emphasize the human impact on fragile ecosystems, to elucidate our relationship to nature, and to visualize the violence of natural disasters. The purpose of The Tragedy of Beauty is to demonstrate that global environmental struggles are creating an aesthetic.

In conjunction with The Tragedy of Beauty, Exit Art will also create a collective terrarium in its two ground floor windows facing 36th Street and 10th Avenue. For this project, the public has been invited to bring a plant and a photo of themselves with the plant to Exit Art, in order to contribute to a communal garden that gives a presence to the local environmental movement.

Curated by Papo Colo, Jeanette Ingberman, Lauren Rosati and Herb Tam.

Edward Burtynsky (Canada); Mitch Epstein (USA); Anthony Hamboussi (USA); Chris Jordan (USA); Christopher LaMarca (USA); Sze Tsung Leong (USA); David Maisel (USA); Susannah Sayler/The Canary Project (USA); Jo Syz (UK)

Exit Art
475 Tenth Ave
New York, NY 10018

T. 212 966 7745
F. 212 925 2928

Gallery Hours:
Tuesday – Thursday 10:00am – 6:00pm
Friday 10:00am – 8:00pm
Saturday 12:00pm – 8:00pm

Opening Reception: Friday June 16, 2010, 7-10 pm.
Dates of Exhibition: June 18 – August 18, 2010.

Nadav Kander wins the 2009 Prix Pictet Prize

October 26, 2009
Chongqing XI, 2007, Chongqing, China

Chongqing XI, 2007, Chongqing, China

The Prix Pictet is an annual search for photographs that communicate powerful messages of global environmental significance under a broad theme. This year that theme was “Earth”. Nadav Kander was nominated for his series of photos, Yangtze, The Long River Series, 2006-07, documenting the rapidly changing landscape and communities of China’s Yangtze River, from its mouth to source, and this past week he was awarded the prize at FIAC in Paris, which I just happened to be leaving from that day. Sadly I missed the announcement and events that evening, but was nonetheless thrilled at the news.

Chongqing IV (Sunday Picnic), 2006, Chongqing, China

Chongqing IV (Sunday Picnic), 2006, Chongqing, China

Kofi Annan, the Prix Pictet’s Honorary President while also esteemed Nobel Laureate and former Secretary General of the United Nations, awarded Kander the prize saying that, “The photographs were a compelling call for action to tackle climate change, the most serious humanitarian and environmental challenge facing the world today. Only weeks separate us from the decisive negotiations on climate change in Copenhagen. We are confronted with the vital need to prepare the political momentum necessary for a fair and effective post-Kyoto agreement. The images in front of us remind us of the fragility of our planet and the damage we have already done. When we see these photographs we cannot close our eyes and remain indifferent. Through our actions and voices, we must keep building the pressure to secure urgent action at Copenhagen and beyond.”

Shanghai I, 2006, Shanghai, China

Shanghai I, 2006, Shanghai, China

Kander is a British based photographer, one I’ve never had the chance to work with, but have wanted to a number of times. I remember doing an interview with a big time ad agency on the west coast, and Nadav Kander was the first photographer out of my mouth when I was asked which dream photographers I’d like to worth with but haven’t had the privilege of. Kander photographed the Yangtze River from mouth to source, or over 4000 miles of watery arteries running across China. According to his artist statement, he didn’t set out with any pre-conceived notions of the river or its inhabitants– which make up more than all of the people in the entire US– but instead let the landscape do the work for him, and guide the kind of pictures he took as a physical response to the environment. What struck me the most about these images is that despite the presence of people or industry, both creators of commotion and therefore sound, the pictures felt eerily quiet. The color palette of tans and browns that make up the river and smog feel as if sound would simply not exist in that landscape. This is reinforced in the way Kander effectively portrays the sheer size of the river– which directly relates to China’s ever increasing population growth and development—using people against the backdrop of overpasses, industry, and of course water. This makes the Chinese individual seem incredibly small as opposed to the gargantuan amount and speed of development currently taking place.

Bathers, Yibin, Sichuan, 2007, Sichuan, China

Bathers, Yibin, Sichuan, 2007, Sichuan, China

While these are just four examples from this body of work, I urge  you not only to explore Kander’s work further by visiting this link to his personal website, but by also reading his moving and straight to the point artist statement which can be found here.

Changing Earth: Photographers Call to Action

August 25, 2009

The Ansel Adams Gallery And Blue Earth “Changing Earth: Photographer’s Call to Action” At Mumm Napa

The Ansel Adams Gallery and Blue Earth are proud to host an inspiring photo exhibit and lecture series featuring our dramatically changing planet titled “Changing Earth: Photographers Call to Action” opening September 19, 2009 at Mumm Napa Fine Art Photography Gallery and running through March 13, 2010.

The Blue Earth Alliance would like to extend an invitation to our friends to join us for a sparkling wine reception at Mumm Napa on September 19 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. marking the opening of the exhibit. The reception and ongoing exhibit are open to the public and offered at no charge.

The exhibit features works from a variety of acclaimed Blue Earth project photographers who document earth’s changing environment and the impact of those changes on society. Blue Earth photographers and projects in the exhibit include: Daniel Beltrá (Amazon: Forest at Risk), Benjamin Drummond & Sara Joy Steele (Facing Climate Change: Global Change. Local People), Stephen Harrison (Visualizing Earth), Anne Marie Musselman (Finding Trust/The Sarvey Wildlife Project), Camille Seaman (Melting Away ? The Last Iceberg), Florian Schulz (Freedom To Roam: Wildlife Corridors), John Trotter (No Agua, No Vida: The Thirsty Colorado River Delta), and Rebecca Norris Webb (The Glass Between Us: Reflections on Urban Creatures).

Mumm Napa Winery is located at 8445 Silverado Trail, Rutherford, CA 94573. Visitor center and fine art photography gallery hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.

Lecture Schedule
Nov. 7th – Drummond/Steele, “Facing Climate Change”
Dec. 5th – Camille Seaman, “Connection and Purpose”
Feb. 6th – Stephen Harrison, “Visualizing Earth”
Mar. 6th – John Trotter, “The Future of the Colorado River”
TBD – Florian Schulz, “Freedom To Roam

Check out the Blue Earth Alliance website for further updates.

Chris Jordan during TEDtalk

August 20, 2009

From the 2008 TEDtalk, Chris Jordan explains his work and how it aims to connect our everyday actions to the unfathomable statistics we encounter on a daily basis. Approx. 11 minutes in length.

Prix Pictet 2009 Shortlist Announced

July 10, 2009
Andreas Gursky, Untitled XIII, 2002

Andreas Gursky, Untitled XIII, 2002

From the official press release: GENEVA & ARLES, France– A shortlist of twelve outstanding international photographers, from which one will be selected later this year to receive the Prix Pictet, the world’s photography prize for environmental sustainability, was announced today at Europe’s leading photography festival, Les Rencontres d’Arles in France.

The prize is supported by Swiss bank Pictet & Cie. Photographers shortlisted for the £60,000 (CHF100,000) first prize are:

Darren Almond, UK; Christopher Anderson, Canada; Sammy Baloji, Congo; Edward Burtynsky, Canada; Naoya Hatakeyama, Japan; Andreas Gursky, Germany; Nadav Kander, South Africa; Ed Kashi, USA; Abbas Kowsari, Iran; Yao Lu, China; Edgar Martins, Portugal and Christopher Steele Perkins, UK.

The Prix Pictet is an annual search for photographs that communicate powerful messages of global environmental significance under a broad theme. This year the theme is ‘earth’. A Mexican garbage dump where people forage to sustain a pitiful existence; the changing landscape and displaced communities of China’s Yangtze River; the devastating impact of oil production in the Niger Delta; and the annual pilgrimage to the desert fronts of the Iran-Iraq war are among the subjects that feature in the work of this year’s shortlisted artists.

The submissions speak of the harmful and often irreversible effects of exploiting the earth’s resources and reflect on the immediate and long-term impact of unsustainable development on communities across the globe.

Earth’, a book published by teNeues, cataloguing the work of the Prix Pictet nominees will accompany this year’s prize and launched on 6 October at Purdy Hicks Gallery, London.

The winner will be announced by Kofi Annan, honorary president of the Prix Pictet, on 22 October 2009 at the Passage de Retz gallery, Paris. A further award, in the form of a commission for one of the shortlisted photographers to visit a region where Pictet & Cie are supporting a sustainability project, will be announced at the same time.

Prix Pictet will collaborate with FIAC (22 – 25 October), Paris’ major international contemporary and modern art fair, and Paris Photo, the world’s leading event for photography (19 – 22 November).

An independent jury of seven leading figures from the worlds of the visual arts and the environment, chaired by the photography critic, Francis Hodgson, made the selection from over 300 nominations put forward by the seventy Prix Pictet nominators – a group that includes leading critics, practitioners and curators.

Nicolas Pictet, Partner of Pictet & Cie, said ‘The calibre of the shortlisted work for this second year of the Prix Pictet illustrates how the issue of sustainability resonates throughout the artistic community. We strongly believe that by bringing these images to the attention of the world, Prix Pictet will further highlight the devastating effect climate change is having on our planet and ensure sustainability remains at the heart of global policy making.’

Awarding the inaugural Prix Pictet to Canadian photographer Benoit Aquin last October, Kofi Annan said: ‘It is my hope that the Prix Pictet will help to deepen understanding of the changes taking place in our world and raise public awareness about the urgency of taking preventative action.’


I’m not surprised to see most of the photographers who’ve made the shortlist, except for one. Edgar Martins. It’ll be very interesting to see if the latest controversy over the pulled NY Times images affects his candidacy negatively. The shortlist results came in only a few hours ago, and I would think the news of the controversy and ultimate withrawl of images from the NYT site hit France as soon as it did here in NYC, especially since the shortlist was announced from one of the largest photo festivals in the world.

I have been a fan Martins’ extensive bodies of work over the years, and loved Topologies. I find it hard however to now believe his black skies were all done within camera. I have no problem with darkroom techniques like dodging, burning, contrast or softening tools, etc. Or even with digital manipulation if that’s how it’s labeled. But to misrepresent your work in a way the public believes to be true goes against the ideology behind his work. Gursky on the other hand, while he doesn’t reveal the step-by-step process of his pictures, does say there is digital alteration and manipulation present in his work. Does it make it any less respectable? No, because it’s there for us to take into account and put into the context of his ideas and the respective images he creates from those ideas. Photographs are after all constructs of ideas that originate in less tangible forms.

Stay tuned on how this plays out in this most coveted of environmental photography prizes.

Sebastião Salgado: Genesis

July 3, 2009

Sebastiao Salgado one of the most well known photo journalists of our time. Over the past 36 years the Brazilian born photographer has been photographing developing countries and their respective communities showing us what these remote locations, their peoples, and their everyday lives entail. Salgado works in the humanitarian and social documentary vein, seeking out indigenous cultures as well as impoverished ones, with previous projects including migrant workers, displaced peoples, famine and war torn lands, and political issues. He uses photography as a means to the end, utilizing its immediate visual story telling capabilities as a tool to further urgent political and social issue based discussion.

©  Sebastião Salgado / Amazonas images

© Sebastião Salgado / Amazonas images

Salgado began his career as a professional photographer in Paris, in 1973, and worked with the photo agencies Sygma, Gamma, and Magnum Photos up till 1994, when he and Lélia Wanick Salgado created Amazonas images, an agency that exclusively handles his work. Together, Lélia and Sebastião have worked since the 1990’s on the restoration of a small part of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil. In 1998 they succeeded in making this land a nature preserve and created Instituto Terra, whose mission is reforestation, conservation and environmental education.

©  Sebastião Salgado / Amazonas images

© Sebastião Salgado / Amazonas images

Salgado’s latest and probably the largest project to date is titled Genesis (which he says was not meant to invoke religious connotation), an environmental documentary project on a grandiose scale. While previously photographing the plight of various lands and its peoples, Salgado, an environmentalist, thought he needed to photograph the areas that have not been touched by humans, war, famine, pestilence, etc. To show the amazing and precious places that still exist on this planet is to bring to light how important and urgent their survival and preservation is. He hopes to make a difference in the larger environmental movement through his images of “pristine” places around the globe, taking him from 3 months in the Galapagos, to 500 miles trekking across the Ethiopian mountains. He has turned to focus from social systems to eco systems.

©  Sebastião Salgado / Amazonas images

© Sebastião Salgado / Amazonas images

The images are dark and moody, in a grainy black and white. And while I’ve learned that Salgado has recently switched to digital cameras, the images still appear consistent with his style and look for over the past 30 years. They are not to be confused with traditional journalistic imagery, as he subjects here aren’t seen from a voyeurs point of view. Instead Salgado engages with his subjects, be it African tribesmen, Russian bears, or Venezuelan forests. They are slightly romanticized, but not overly so. I think the aim for this project is to romanticize these places specifically for the purpose of showing viewers eco systems that yet remained untouched, but only for so much longer. They have to be shown in an elevated light in order to truly cause emotion and not just give information.

Salgado’s work is all about context. Nothing is static or still, even in an image that may appear still. The narrative present has a past and a future, we’re only glimpsing a moment in passing. There is a real sense of fluidity in his images, but a calculated fluidity as well. Technically, they are perfect. Composition, light, POV, angles, all come together in the frame. But, that is the means to an end as well. There is always a story behind each Salgado photograph, and his techniques are merely the language with which he tells these stories. The style or genre is not quite documentary, not quite fine art, but somewhere again, in flux, moving between the two never landing in one place or the other, just like his images.

Salgado says of this body of work, “I have named this project GENESIS because my aim is to return to the beginnings of our planet: to the air, water and the fire that gave birth to life, to the animal species that have resisted domestication, to the remote tribes whose ‘primitive’ way of life is still untouched, to the existing examples of the earliest forms of human settlement and organisation. A potential path towards humanity’s rediscovery of itself. So many times I’ve photographed stories that show the degradation of the planet, I thought the only way to give us an incentive, to bring hope, is to show the pictures of the pristine planet – to see the innocence. And then we can understand what we must preserve.” -Sebastião Salgado via Jori Finkel for the NY Times.

To see more of Salgado’s striking images on what looks to be a 12 years project, currently 4 already under his belt, please visit the Peter Fetterman gallery where he is represented by clicking here.

Further links to the NY Times article here and to the Guardian’s regular posts on Genesis as it progresses here.

Jem Southam

June 1, 2009
Senneville-sur-Fecamp, April

Senneville-sur-Fecamp, April. Courtesy Robert Mann Gallery and Charles Isaacs Photographs.

Jem Southam is a British landscape photographer focusing on man and nature’s subtle influence over the existing landscape. He explores his subjects or “sites” over many years, going back to each site over and over as would an archeologist or scientific surveyor in order to take time affected notes. The slight changes he’s able to witness from this approach allows us to view what can easily be taken for granted, the cycles of nature as well as man’s interference in those cycles.

In a series called “Rockfalls”, Southam photographed a section of the coastline of Normandy in northern France where dramatic cliffs change shape on a daily basis. The varying seasons, changes in weather patterns, storms, erosion by both water and rock, and even mineral and chemical content changes in the soil and water can alter the size and shape of these massive cliffs.

The images online don’t do these pictures justice at all. I was lucky enough to view this work on massive scale last year for Southam’s solo show Robert Mann gallery here in New York. Besides being absolutely gorgeous, the work asks for a second look as it commands a certain historical relevance and importance. Go ahead, take a second look.

Vaucottes, February

Vaucottes, February. Courtesy Robert Mann Gallery and Charles Isaacs Photographs.

To see more of Southam’s work please visit the Robert Mann Gallery’s website by clicking here.

Interview with Daniel Shea

May 20, 2009


A few posts back, I wrote about the work of Daniel Shea, a Chicago based photographer covering environmental topics. I specifically focused on a project titled “Removing Mountains” (click here to read older post), where Shea spent 3 months in Appalachia documenting an extremely destructive form of coal mining called Mountain Top Removal. Shea was kind enough to answer a few questions about the work, process, and his ideas on the subject matter.

How did you first become interested in this subject and why?

First off, thanks for doing this interview! Issues surrounding coal and energy usage in this country are becoming increasingly relevant, and it makes me really happy to see people trying to get the word out. As for the question, at some point in high school I discovered radical politics and alternative models for current economic and social conditions. As you can imagine, an entire world was suddenly opening up for me. In college, while hanging out in the local anarchist bookshop, Red Emma’s , I met a few activists who were part of something called “Mountain Justice Summer.” MJS, I learned, was a summit for activists and community organizers interested in ending current coal-mining practices (in particular mountaintop removal mining) through direct action and public outreach. I almost immediately knew I wanted to travel to the region to explore mountaintop removal and the affected social landscape of Appalachia. I had the opportunity to apply for the Meyer Travelling Fellowship, and I worked on the grant for a year. I ended up getting the grant, and the rest is history.

Do you consider yourself an environmentalist?

This is a hard question to answer. I’ve become increasingly disillusioned with ideological perspectives in recent years, as they tend to filter reality in a way that is generally unproductive. Instead of subscribing to a political ideology, such as environmentalism, veganism, anarchism, feminism (all things I hold dear, in one way or another), I try to embrace an overall state of social awareness. Semantics aside, as someone who is deeply interested in sustaining the future of the natural world and generally looks at industry with profound cynicism (while admittedly still participating in the culture), I am an environmentalist. I have to be careful with my identifying labels, especially while on the road and retaining an air of neutrality. Of course, the perception of neutrality is what’s important, considering I very clearly have opinions on the matter!

You temporarily moved to and lived in a mountain town in Appalachia for 3 months in order to complete this project, how did you approach what you were doing with other members of the home you lived in?

I approached the situation with sincere and 100% genuine reverence. I’ve learned so much from listening to other people over the years, especially in the context of struggle. Coming to this region as a complete outsider was something I was constantly aware of. I reconciled my position of privilege only by gradually increasing my place in the community from passive witness to an involved artist. That being said, again, I had to maintain the perception of neutrality, so I was clearly not in the region as an activist (despite living with some of the most amazing activists I have ever met). I expected my transition into the community to be slow, however the people I lived with, and the folks involved in the fight against MTR were exceedingly warm and welcoming and made my stay there feel like home.

Portraits shape a large part of the work, including miners, some quite young and just starting on their path to a mining career. While this particular type of mining is known to be extremely harmful and devastating to wildlife, ecology, water supply, human health, and more, it also brings a much needed demand of labor and therefore resulting jobs, as well as a way of life passed down from generations before breeding a certain mining culture. How did you broach the controversial topic you were exploring when approaching your subjects in taking their portraits?

This question perhaps touches on exactly why this issue is so complex. Not only is the coal industry the main provider of jobs to an economically devastated region (due to coal, but that is another essay) but the idea of coal (in labor and history) is so ingrained in the culture that it constitutes one of the main fabrics of Appalachian life. Appalachian culture and coal can hardly be separated. We all can speak in grandiose in terms about the environment and industry, but the reality of the situation is that a working man in Appalachia is interested in having a job come next year. That is why I firmly believe that you can’t talk about the devastation of the coal industry and the urgent need to curb all current practices without presenting a clear economic alternative. Thankfully, clean energy alternatives and a push towards local, sustainable economies is often in the dialogue with activists and other citizen advocacy organizations.

What did you find to be the cultural implications of surface mining directly on the Appalachian mining community?

I wish there was an easy and concise way to answer this question! It’s important to understand that in a lot of towns, there was a point where coal was able to employ a large population and bring relative economic prosperity. However, coal, like all fossil fuels, is a finite source for energy, and once a given region’s resources have been extracted, there is often no work left. Coupled with rapidly changing technologies over the last 40 years (which lead to the development of modern incarnations of mining coal, such as mountaintop removal), which need a fraction of the work force once needed, I can safely say that coal has devastated the region economically. In our country and in most parts of the world, economic devastation leads to cultural disintegration on some level. The paradox here of course is that coal is Appalachia’s blessing and curse. It provides the few jobs available to a lot of the region’s underserved communities, but at the same time, the industry is just as responsible for economic devastation. It is both the provider and perhaps the only historically relevant industry to set the path for the rather complex economic issues plaguing the region.

That being said, culture is clearly affected by more elements than economics (although this is the prominent filter by which to speak of all elements of life in America). With mountains literally being destroyed, the fabled relationship Appalachians have with their mountains is being destroyed on the most basic level. How can you be people of the mountains with no mountains?Do you have an official stance on surface mining? I would like to see our country and the rest of the world make the shift to more sustainable modes for harboring and consuming energy. Stripped of all the rhetoric and politics, no one with any degree of credibility or intelligence will tell you that extracting and burning coal is indefinitely sustainable.

What do you believe will be the future for this specific industry?

I don’t have the expertise to really comment on this, but I feel that the coal industry, like most sectors of extraction and unsustainable industries, will soon be forced to redefine their practices. I think realistically, the campaign for “clean coal” will win the uniformed minds of the American people and the unconscionable deep pockets of American government. That’s unfortunate, but I’m admittedly cynical about this type of thing. Again, I’d like to see an end to all coal extraction practices, but that would require a relatively overnight shift in ideology, which I really don’t see happening.

What are you working on next?

I’m in the grant-writing and fund-seeking stages of a project that I would like to execute in Southern Ohio as a follow-up to Removing Mountains. Along the Ohio River are countless coal-fired power plants dotting the landscape. A lot of coal from Appalachia is being shipped to this region for energy conversion. I’d like to spend a month or two living in Southern Ohio, documenting the effects of the coal-burning industry on the landscape and local communities. I’ve already spent some time here, doing preliminary research, but I’m hopefully looking to complete this project in the Fall of this year. There are literally ghost towns surrounding some of these large plants due to the increasing sickness of all the residents in the immediate proximity. It’s a fascinating landscape and very revealing of the way a lot of people in this country live under the shadow of industry. This work, coupled with Removing Mountains, will hopefully be published as a book in 2010.

To view more of Daniel’s work, please visit his website

Richard Misrach

May 11, 2009
Dead Animals #1, 1987.

Dead Animals #1, 1987.

From a background in mathematics, psychology, and community organizing Misrach is a self taught photographer who grew up in the 60s in Berkley, during the start of the first major environmental movement. He is most known for his photographic works in the western American desert between 1981-2001. He was always interested in man’s interference with nature, evident when he photographed military bombing ranges, a space shuttle launch, man made fires and floods, mass graves of dead animals, discarded Playboy magazines. Each set of pictures belong to a larger body of work which link together as a discussion between and amongst each other as part of the larger context of the great American desert.

Atomic Bomb Loading Pit, Wendover Air Force Base, Utah, 1989.

Atomic Bomb Loading Pit, Wendover Air Force Base, Utah, 1989.

After 9/11, Misrach turned his camera to the beach, photographing scenes of sunbathers and swimmers in often times disturbing postures and positions. By omitting a skyline or horizon line in all the photographs, Misrach forces his subjects out of context, abstracting them, and allows the viewer to imagine these bodies not resting comfortably on soft sand, but falling explosions, or even from the twin towers. He’s explored the idea of omitting skylines before, in his images of the sky and clouds, alluding to infinity and space. The same can be said for “The Beach” pictures, as it seems the figures are floating through space. Misrach shoots with an 8×10 large format camera, thus enabling the images to be printed on an extremely large scale, allowing the figures to be seen up close, something that doesn’t translate on the web or in small print. However, the scale of the figures in relation to the size of the entire photograph, is similar in scale to images caught on video or on camera phones of people jumping from the World Trade Center during 9/11. In a fantastic talk given last year at the Art Institute of Chicago, available to listen to via on line podcast here, Misrach goes through a chronology of his work, finishing with the Beach series. It is interesting to hear that sometimes the ideas behind the work came to Misrach after the fact, that is after he had gone back to look at the work and think about why he was interested in photographing what he was. To view more of Misrach’s work over the years, visit ArtNet here for a comprehensive portfolio.

Untitled, 170-2004. 2004.

Untitled, 170-2004. 2004.