American Excavations 

Since environmental stresses can be both a drive and consequence of injustice and inequality - including poverty, racism, and neocolonial violence - political ecology recognizes that the ways we regard nature carry deep implications and often unacknowledged ramifications for how we organize society, assign responsibility for environmental change, and asses social impact."

— T.J Demos, Decolonizing Nature

The effects of our species, our traces, our stories, are written into rocks. Like a camera, they record our delusional drive towards extinction, and bear witness to our collective past. Rocks are alive.

Excavations explores the way systems of oppression perpetuate the Capitalocene, and the complicated role the camera plays in our violent, racist past and present. Photographs permeate our ideas about ourselves and our place in the world, fermenting world views. Pulling from american magazine archives from the 1940’s to now, reveals deeply entrenched ideologies about race, gender, and our relationship to nature, animals, and the planet. The omnipresence of danger, and the urgency to control (the narrative, the body, the animal) are pervasive and loud. Simultaneously, there are rivers of resistance, community, hope, and love.

Collage seeks out various parts of images to make whole again what has been shattered. It is a tool for responding to trauma, a way to process an unrecognizable world going to pieces. At its most basic, collage understands that our experience is often different from how it is represented in images and in the media. Photographs are good at showing what things look like, which is often not the same thing as what things feel like. This project examines how stories have been told through media images and constructs new possibilities by remixing, intervening, and burning. 

Fire is used to nurture ecological diversity, and the way Indigenous Americans stewarded this land so well for so long. It is also employed by white people to [try to] erase truths through book burning and book banning. There is a violence to fire, as there is to erasure, and an unpredictability. Burned paper summons images of our current climate crisis, and the way the burning of fossil fuels has brought us a pandemic of wildfires and other devastating disruptions, and thrown the world into chaos.

Visualizing a way forward out of the quagmire of fear and disinformation is a strategy for hope and renewal. Maps are needed in dark times. Though we may feel surrounded by indifference, ignorance, exclusion and oppression, it’s important to build and engage with the world we want to live in - to be compelled to act, to vote, to sing.

Though there may always be tigers, sometimes there are strawberries.

Using Format