A red river pushes its way through a dried out, bleached valley towards a lake that no longer exists. The ground seems to be bleeding. ‘The Lake Project’ is one of David Maisel’s major aerial photography projects. Through the large scaled images David Maisel leads us on a almost hallucinatory travel through landscapes that have been entirely transformed by environmental issues and changed by human agency. His photographs of environmentally impacted zones illustrate the issues of contemporary landscape with comparable measures of documentation and metaphor as well as beauty and gloom. The depicted terrain is located in Owens Valley, a stretch of land in southeastern California. Around 1913 the Los Angeles reclamation project effectively diverted water from Owens Valley to the Los Angeles Aqueduct, feeding the city’s water supply. By 1926, the lower Owens River and Owens Lake were essentially depleted of water, leaving a vast exposed salt flat. Since then the Owens Lake region has become the largest source of particulate matter pollution in the United States.
David Maisel’s work will be on display at Haines Gallery, opening September 5th.
All images © David Maisel/INSTITUTE