IOWA CONTEMPORARY ART   |   58 North Main Street, Fairfield, IA 52556   |   641-469-6252   | ICON is an IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit educational charity. All donations are tax-deductible.
Current Exhibit
Bridgeport Rental & Oil Services, Bridgeport, New Jersey
CURATORIAL STATEMENT In 1980 more than 400,000 toxic waste sites overspread the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared 400 of these highly hazardous and in need of immediate attention. In just a few years, the number of these “Superfund” sites more than tripled. Though they constitute a shocking degradation of our landscape, Superfund sites are never seen by most Americans. But over the course of a year, beginning in 1985, David T. Hanson traveled to 45 states on a Guggenheim Fellowship to make aerial photographs of 67 of them, thus documenting a cross-section of both U.S. geography and its ravaging by industrial waste in one artistic odyssey. Hanson’s Waste Land series is a master photographer’s meditation on the country’s most dangerously polluted places. Each work in the series juxtaposes the artist’s photograph with a modified topographic map and the EPA’s own description of the site’s history and hazards. The sociologist Andrew Ross wrote, “Hanson’s Waste Land series is a stunning documentary of a century of organized state terrorism against the North American land, its species, and its peoples.” This installation will feature a new video that Hanson has created of the entire series, including his aerial photographs, maps and EPA site descriptions of each hazardous waste site. For this video, the composer Jarrad Powell created an original sound work. Sounds from three different sources—biophony (sounds of animals), geophony (sounds of weather and other natural elements), and anthrophony (sounds created by humans)—interpenetrate and are mediated by minimal electronic signal processing to yield a soundscape. Like a landscape, it is somewhat static, but also changing, with subtlety or suddenness. Through recordings we preserve the sound environment to use and study, even as we destroy that very environment by various means, leading to degradation and extinction. Intended to be played in continuous loop, the Waste Land video becomes a haunting meditation on a ravaged landscape. In the words of the art historian Suzi Gablik, “The history of Western industrial society’s assault on the earth and the devastation it has wrought are the subjects of Hanson’s aerial photographs. The images are harsh, distressing and terrible …. Hanson’s photographs of this ongoing drama are among the most powerful and disturbing images ever to be seen, perhaps because their eerie, abstract beauty almost seems to negate the sinister, hidden life which glimmers in them: landscape as Eros transformed into landscape as Thanatos.” Although Hanson’s Waste Land photographs were made in the mid-1980s, the work seems even more relevant today, given our growing concerns about energy production, environmental devastation, and climate change. As Wendell Berry described in his moving tribute to Waste Land, “Hanson’s art is here put forthrightly to the use of showing us what most of us, in fact, have not seen before, do not wish to see now, and yet must see if we are to save ourselves and our land from such work and such results. He has given us the topography of our open wounds.”
Bridgeport Rental & Oil Services, Bridgeport, New Jersey
Silver Bow Creek/Butte Area, Silver Bow/Deer Lodge Counties, Montana
HD video, color, sound, 64' continuous loop, 2020 Sound by Jarrad Powell, Video Production by Allen Cobb. Jarrad Powell is a composer, performer, and teacher. He is Professor Emeritus of Music at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle where he taught composition, world music, gamelan, tuning and temperament, and other theory-related classes, as well as interdisciplinary collaborations with new media and dance. He is Director of Gamelan Pacifica. His compositions have been performed and broadcast internationally and include pieces for voice, gamelan, various western and non-western instruments, electro-acoustic music, music for theater, dance and experimental film. He is the third-generation descended from Montana homesteaders and grew up on Absáalooke land in south-centralMontana, former site of the Sundance Sea, an epeiricsea of the Mesozoic Era.
David T. Hanson is a photographer and visual artist, educator, and environmental activist. Born and raised in Montana, he received a B.A. in English Literature from Stanford University and an M.F.A. in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design, where he was Adjunct Professor of Photography and Landscape Architecture from 1983–2000. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1985 and two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships in 1986 and 1994. His work has been widely exhibited, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His artwork has been the subject of five monographs, including Colstrip, Montana; WIlderness to Wasteland; and Waste Land. For the past thirty years Hanson has worked with regional and national environmental organizations and legislators on issues addressing mining reform, hazardous waste, energy production, and climate change.
Liquid Disposal, Inc., Utica, Michigan
Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Adams County, Colorado
Times Beach, Missouri
California Gulch, Leadville, Colorado
More about David T. Hanson’s video: