Environmental Melancholia - Statement
Pigment print on Moab Entrada Rag Natural 300 paper, rice paper, adhesive photo corners; 13" x 19"; Unique
This series, Environmental Melancholia, consists of constructed fictive landscape portraits, reflecting my artistic reaction to the environmental crisis. During the racial, sociopolitical, and ecological crisis, I follow Toni Morrison's advice for artists to get to work.
My work responds to our precarious, natural world. Without collective mobilization, our future is uncertain. As a trauma psychologist, I am aware of the difficulty of absorbing these life-threatening losses. As a photographer, I look to aesthetic strategies to witness these losses and support the transformation of grief into environmental activism.
Inspired by a legacy of documentarian landscape photographers and Werner Herzog's use of fictionalized versions of reality to find essential truths, I have constructed a series of imaginary landscapes by overlaying two or more actual natural sites, dissolving borders of ownership. The result? Fictional portraits of shared worlds. Photographs are constructed by combining elements from different environments. I have photographed various landscapes in Bhutan, California, Cape Cod, Chile, Iceland, Japan, and New Zealand. These ripped images disrupt their wholeness, yet they are subsequently reconstructed.
While the constructed landscapes are pictorial and idyllic, incongruent layers, rips, unexpected color and scale, washi tape, and photo corners interrupt our visual expectations of poetic landscapes and perhaps our complacency. In some images, the torn pieces of our natural, fragile world are insecurely held together with tape, preventing them from "getting lost" and engaging the viewer with visceral materiality. With their associations to souvenirs of the past, the photo corners suggest a warning that our unspoiled natural environments might become imaginary and nostalgic without collaborative care. This is a wake-up call, challenging our belief in the "going on being" of nature and suggesting the need for collective stewardship of our planet.