I recently attended Aperture Foundations book launch of photographer Richard Misrach’s Petrochemical America. For the past decade Misrach has been collaborating with landscape architect, Kate Orff on this haunting project which explores a 150 mile region located in Louisiana referred to as Cancer Alley due to its alarmingly high number of cancer occurrences in relation to the intense chemical production that takes place in the area. The book offers a narrative of visual exploration as well as research and analysis on the horrific effects to everyday life caused by the petrochemical industry. The exhibition that correlates with the book is executed with the same haunting eeriness that the issue warrants. Charts, intensely informative wall labels and large over-powering photographs confront with authority. The muted landscapes and hazy images of ghostly towns of the south show a world void of life… predicting perhaps or rather warning, the inevitable future if life continues to go on like this.
It was wonderful hearing Richard Misrach and Kate Orff discussing their collaboration and part of the process of this project. It was quite the lovely evening and I will be purchasing the book as soon as I can.
Richard Misrach, Hazardous Waste Containment Site, Dow Chemical Corporation, Plaquemine, Louisiana 1998