Mark Ruwedel – Discovery Award, Rencontres d’Arles 2011
Ruwedel makes work in the desert regions of the Western United States, much of which concerns the impacts of human activity on the landscape. His work offers both an absolute commitment to the formal language and potential of the large-format camera, and a deep commitment to the aesthetic potential of print-production. His work is as conceptually ambitious as it is geographically wide-ranging, drawing on the precision of the new-topographic tradition, but overlaying this approach with his own unique perspective on the troubled relationship between the natural environment and the inevitable consequences of economic expansion.
For many years now, my work has been concerned with offering an understanding of the American West as a palimpsest of cultural and natural histories. Dusk and Dog Houses may best be described as chapters of a much larger project entitled Message from the Exterior, while 1212 Palms is a complete work representing my long-term interest in place names and a conceptual approach to landscape photography. 1212 Palms is a set of nine black and white photographs of locations in the California deserts that were named for a certain number of palm trees. From Una Palma to Thousand Palms Oasis, the nine names add up to one thousand two hundred and twelve, although the number of trees depicted do not. The photographs in both Dusk and Dog Houses were made in the desert regions east of Los Angeles. Dusk is a series of black and white images of abandoned houses, photographed after the sun disappeared over the horizon. In their subdued, dark tones they suggest both presence and absence, social as well as geographical isolation. The Dog Houses, photographed in color, were found at deserted houses and homesteads similar to those of the seriesDusk. The collection presents an inventory of a particular, and poignant, form of vernacular architecture. These modest structures are both humorous and tragic, alluding to the fragility of human endeavor in a harsh environment.
Exhibition produced with the collaboration of the Luisotti Gallery, Santa Monica.
Artist presented by Simon Baker.
Exhibition venue: Grande Halle, Parc des Ateliers, Rencontres d’Arles 2011.