I like to think of By Rail as more “sweeping epic” than polemic. The conversation I find most interesting has the railway as the skeleton of our northern New World civilization. In the myth of America immigrants and civil war veterans constructed The First Transcontinental Railroad in eastern states, and from the Pacific prodigious Chinese labour forced tracks through mountains; rail populated frontiers and diminished native-controlled territories. Here, coast-to-coast confederation was contingent upon a rail link, and telegraph lines (remote communication!) were erected in rail sidings. We’ve matured in tandem with mechanized travel; the design of our communities, our conception of how to utilize space reflects that. I think it’s useful to extrapolate further and recognize more ephemeral conventions like time zones are also products of railway companies.
— Scott Conarroe
Mr. Fitts clearly has an eye for the more forlorn aspects of the American dream and the technical skills to realize his vision in these very accomplished prints. “No Lifeguard on Duty” could be described as depressing, but as a body of work it has an undeniable elegiac quality.
He is working in the tradition of Western landscape artists that includes painters from the 19th century and later photographers such as Robert Adams, Richard Misrach and Stephen Shore. These sites are among the minor ruins of a nation. They embody the Ozymandias effect of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem: “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.”
— Charles Dee Mitchell
Photographer Alejandro Cartagena has taken the theme of suburban sprawl to a new level of visualization and power in a body of work entitled Suburbia Mexicana: Cause and Effect. Shot over a period of three years in his hometown of Monterrey, Mexico, the series focuses on disruption to the landscape, both physical and social, that has occurred as a result of overbuilding.
Since 2001, the city has been transformed due to contradicting policies that have allowed developers to build more than 300,000 new houses in the metropolitan region. Cartagena has recorded these monumental changes, with a vision that both heroic and poignant.
In a race to put up cheap housing fast, the landscape has been urbanized before plans for efficient roadways, recreational parks and public transportation can be realized. As well as capturing the relentless march of uniform structures across an arid landscape, Cartagena has also explored the hardships faced by the new inhabitants of what can truly be described as the new dystopia.
— Peggy Roalf
This body of work is the result of the eery meeting of two like-minded individuals. Gérard Desplanques and I are twins in vision and sensitivity. He paints, I photograph. We met in 1991 at a common exhibition and we jumped at seeing each other’s works. We accused each other of working from the other one’s work without having the courtesy to mention it to him. We were both wrong.
We decided to challenge the meeting and extend the work. The production remained strictly parallel in their resemblance, even after I had spent a whole year in the United States, without contact, even when both our styles had evolved.
In 1997 when Gérard decided to move from town (Guéret) to country, and restore an old barn made of grey granite stones–the way farms and barns are traditionally built in the Limousin region in the center of France–we decided to work in a circle of about 500 meter radius around his new house, at the end of a small country road, at the very end of a 12-house hamlet “Les Fougères.” Ten years later, we are still working within this area.
Les Fougères strictly means ‘The Ferns” in French. They grow everywhere along the paths, the clear streams, under the chestnut trees and oaks for which the Limousin region is famous [that’s where the oaks for the casks of Bordeaux wines and Cognac have grown for centuries]. The work is strictly about, as mentioned in the quote by Robert Adams in the introduction to this website, geography, biography, and metaphor. I was born among these ferns, under the shade of these trees, eating roasted chestnuts and drinking fresh cider.
— Bruno Chalifour
A common misconception of a watershed is that it’s all about the water. While water does play a large part, the land plays an even larger role by directing the water to a common point, such as a river or ocean. Thus human impact on the land directly affects the water that runs over it.
With this project I highlight the relationship between the land, water and man, within the microcosm of the southeastern watersheds. The French Broad and the Tennessee watersheds make up the southeastern quarter of the Mississippi watershed, the largest river basin in North America.
— Jeff Rich