Richard Misrach: Violent Legacies

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Rare, out-of-print book, now available in limited quantities. In Violent Legacies the acclaimed photographer Richard Misrach compiles three "cantos" in his ongoing series of photographs exploring the desert of the American West. The desert has long been a metaphor in Misrach's art. Here, this barren land, so often romanticized, undergoes an eerie transformation at the hands of man and becomes an unmistakable reflection of militarism, violence, and environmental destruction. Misrach's political commitment and ...
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Overview

Rare, out-of-print book, now available in limited quantities. In Violent Legacies the acclaimed photographer Richard Misrach compiles three "cantos" in his ongoing series of photographs exploring the desert of the American West. The desert has long been a metaphor in Misrach's art. Here, this barren land, so often romanticized, undergoes an eerie transformation at the hands of man and becomes an unmistakable reflection of militarism, violence, and environmental destruction. Misrach's political commitment and activism--filtered through an ironic counterposing of form and content, as well as his exquisite use of color and composition--have never been as powerfully articulated as in these three new cantos, which are centered around the Utah deadlands and a former nuclear test site in Nevada. The late Susan Sontag contributes a subtle yet probing allegorical meditation on violence in contemporary society, and in a postscript interview, Misrach provides background information about the photographed sites.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Photographer Misrach continues his coverage of the desert in the American West, with three series that document the results of militarism, violence, and environmental destruction: the remains of a Utah air base associated with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs; the mysterious death of livestock close to a nuclear plant; and pages of Playboy used as practice targets. Many of the images are quite disturbing. Susan Sontag weaves an allegorical tale around the series. Oversized: 12.25" wide. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Gretchen Garner
Misrach makes lush, expansive, golden-hued landscapes of the western desert. Only on second glance does one note that these landscapes' contents are far from pastoral. Disaster and catastrophe, quite pointedly the work of humans, are featured instead. Since 1979 Misrach has treated each of his landscape themes as a "canto"--"a subsection of a long song or poem." In "Desert Cantos" (1987), his themes, almost biblical in feeling, were "the terrain, the event, the flood," and "the fires." This book is more sharply political. Its cantos begin with "project W-47 (the secret)," photographs made in remote western Utah where nuclear weapons were tested in preparation for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Next is "the pit," disturbing photographs of the dead-animal pits that can be found throughout the West. Last is "the playboys," close-ups of mutilated details from "Playboy" magazines that were used as target practice at the Nevada nuclear test site; these images conflate sexism, violence, and environmental pollution to make strongly polemical visual statements. (Earning Sontag coauthor's billing is a short parable about environmental crisis and the necessity for paying attention to unpleasant truths.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780893815196
  • Publisher: Aperture Foundation
  • Publication date: 8/1/2006
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 12.50 (w) x 11.27 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Table of Contents

The View From the Ark 8
Project W - 47 (The Secret) 14
The Pit 38
The Playboys 60
Postscript : An Interview with Richard Misrach 82
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