Dead Valley, 2013
This series was created on Bear Mountain in Doodletown, NY. The name is from the Dutch “Dood Dal” meaning Dead Valley. It is a long-abandoned town-turned-nature preserve that has been left to become wild. Its chaotic state makes it seem untouched by man, yet on closer examination there are ruins and non-native plant species abandoned by the former inhabitants. I am drawn to Doodletown, as it conveys the possibility of a new natural environment springing from a landscape steeped in a rich history of human intervention.
These photographs examine the space between the object’s environment and the studio I set up around it. My process is rooted in the practices of still life photography and land art. Out of these practices the images explore two intersecting issues; the manipulation of natural environments and how the photographic apparatus influences our perception of space. By taking a backdrop into the environment and physically masking out the background, I psychologically remove the plants from their surroundings while keeping them intact. I free the plants from their perceived place while keeping their form and part of their home with them. With the backdrop I create a cocoon of space, a temporary displacement from the world, that reflects my visualization of the plants as individuals. These portraits reveal how I see the plants, as individuals trying to adapt, survive and continue their lineage.