Thursday, March 4, 2010

"A Fine Message": David Maisel's 'Lake Project'

A Fine Message
David Maisel's photos examine ecological ruin and repair.
By DeWitt Cheng

"What this country needs are pristine landscapes and fine cars to drive through them at top speed (how gorgeous are Pacific sunsets glimpsed from twisty cliffside roads!). Seriously, how to reconcile these conflicting imperatives? David Maisel's magnificent aerial photographs of the parched 200-square-mile Owens Lake (east of the Sierra Nevada, upslope from Los Angeles) proffer no overt polemics, but they do depict, in stunning detail and panoramic scope, our huge environmental footprint, or bootprint. They also find a paradoxical beauty in toxic dust storms, crystalline encrustations of white salt, brine pools full of reddish-purple halobacteria blooms, and — here's the happy ending! — the EPA's 2001-02 remedial Shallow Flooding, which brought migratory and nesting shorebirds back to what had been, since the 1920s, a vast, arid wasteland. Maisel, a social documentarian, conceptualist, and landscape photographer (airborne division), found his calling while exploring the devastated Mount St. Helens in 1983; he describes his subsequent studies, both landscape- and artifact-based, as "mining the aesthetic territory of the apocalyptic sublime, and ... addressing themes of loss, elegy, and memorialization ...."

Read full review @ Eastbayexpress.com 

Artist's talk Thursday, March 11, 7 p.m.; BrownPaperTickets.com. The Lake Project runs through May 21 at Hazel Wolf Gallery, David Brower Center (2150 Allston Way, Berkeley). 510-809-0900 or BrowerCenter.org

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