Academic journal article Afterimage

Written on the Land

Academic journal article Afterimage

Written on the Land

Article excerpt

Written on the Land

by Mark Ruwedel

Presentation House Gallery, 2002/64pp (sb).

To my knowledge, Written on the Land is the second monograph dedicated to Mark Ruwedel's work. Ruwedel's photography has the same approach to the North American landscape, the way we inherited it at the end of the twentieth century, as Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Robert Dawson and Stephen Johnson (The Great Central Valley, 1993), Terry Evans (Disarming the Prairie, 1998), Peter Goin (Nuclear Landscapes, 1993), David Hanson (Wasteland, 1997), or Richard Misrach and his Desert Cantos series. It does not pretend to be anything else.

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Ruwedel's images deal with the "new topography" of the American west after it has been traveled, named, worked, transformed and contaminated by "the white man" (for lack of a better word.) His first monograph, The Hanford Stretch, sponsored by Concordia University (Montreal), showed the green and pleasant landscape unrolling along the banks of the Columbia River, at a location selected in 1943 by the Manhattan Project to built 9 nuclear reactors. Eight out of these reactors were directly cooled by the water of the Columbia river flowing through the radio-active cores before being returned to the river contaminating water, land, and all living species downstream, including the human one, native or not.

Ruwedel is a very quiet man who makes very quiet black and white landscape photographs with a large format camera. …

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