From Book News, Inc.
Photographer Misrach continues his coverage of the desert in the American West, with three series that document the results of militarism, violence, and environmental destruction: the remains of a Utah air base associated with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs; the mysterious death of livestock close to a nuclear plant; and pages of Playboy used as practice targets. Many of the images are quite disturbing. Susan Sontag weaves an allegorical tale around the series. Oversized: 12.25" wide. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Violent Legacies includes some of the hardest hitting work to date by the most important environmental photographer of the late twentieth century."--Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Haunting, masterful, potent, and alarming, Richard Misrach's photographs encompass the sublime beauty of America's Western landscapes and the calculated destructiveness of its inhabitants. His photographs' seductive colors and palatable light engage us to examine the appalling detritus from man's violence and... read more
In Violent Legacies the acclaimed photographer Richard Misrach has compiled three new "cantos" in his ongoing series of photographs exploring the desert in the American West.
The desert has long been a metaphor in Misrach's art. In Violent Legacies these barren lands, so often romanticized, undergo an eerie transformation at the hands of man and become an unmistakable reflection of militarism, violence, and environmental destruction. Misrach's political commitment and activism-- filtered through an ironic counterposing of form and content, as well as his exquisite use of color and composition-- have never been as powerfully articulated as in these three new cantos.
In "Project W-47 (The Secret)" Misrach reveals classically inspired vistas of the Utah deadlands, tainted forever by their past incarnation as Wendover Air Base-- the secret training and planning site for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Aspects of what took place at Wendover still remain classified by the U.S. government.
"The Pit" is a Goyaesque series that focuses on the mysterious death of livestock in very close proximity to a former nuclear test site in the Nevada desert. These photographs are a chilling reminder of U.S. and global nuclear contamination.
"The Playboys" are Misrach's studies of Playboy magazines that were used for target practice by persons unknown on the fringes of the Nevada Nuclear Test Site. While cover girls appear to have been the principal targets, many aspects of American culture-- including icons like Andy Warhol, Ray Charles, and Madonna-- were inadvertently blasted.
Susan Sontag uses these cantos as a springboard to an allegorical tale-- "The View from the Ark"-- a subtle, yet probing meditation on violence in contemporary society. A postscript interview with Richard Misrach provides background information about the sites comprising Violent Legacies.
"The West," says Misrach, "is such a loaded concept that any representation deviating from the cowboy myth automatically becomes confrontational. Today, a more fitting myth is that of Dr. Frankenstein. Since World War II, the American landscape has been converted into a laboratory where scientists and the military experiment with the most elemental powers of the universe, inventing weapons of mass destruction, and leaving a legacy of violence in their wake."
Violent Legacies sends a stark and compelling message about the land we inhabit and our embattled relationship to it. Though the sites depicted here are all in the American West, they symbolize conditions to be found across the globe and in our own backyards. Richard Misrach unveils a landscape of terrible beauty and great metaphorical power. He asks us to confront the violence in human nature, the skeletons in our closet, the radiant glow on the horizon.