Richard Misrach’s Desert Cantos is the result of a life’s work spent exploring landscapes of the American southwest. The project, patterned after The Cantos of Ezra Pound, takes the form of a long, epic visual poem, with eighteen chapters that cover desert subjects as diverse as a military base in Utah, a man-made flood in California, sublime skies in Arizona, and arts happenings in Nevada.
“Once you fall in love with it that’s it,” Misrach has said. “The light, the space, the solitude, the silence. Oh my god. It’s a really powerful place to be. You’re with yourself.”
Like Edward Burtynsky, Misrach goes beyond the boundaries of traditional landscape photography to examine man’s fraught relationship with the environment. Critics and curators have referred to his photography as “cultural landscapes” that explore the footprint we leave behind on the physical world.
From the Desert Cantos book:
“The human struggle, the successes and failures, the use and abuse, both noble and foolish, are readily apparent in the desert. Symbols and relationships seem to arise that stand for the human condition itself. It is a simple, if almost incomprehensible equation: the world is as terrible as it is beautiful, but when you look more closely, it is as beautiful as it is terrible.”
You can view more Desert Cantos images at the Fraenkel Gallery website.