This series of photographs joined visual narratives to create a mapping of social spaces that no longer exist. I’ve documented the disappearing urban industrial landscapes of St. Paul and Minneapolis these last thirty years. Many sites are where my father, grandfather, uncles, husband and I once worked. These are spontaneous and intimate portraits of various abandonments, from the early 1980’s, to the current urban renewal of some of the same sites.
I capture the poetics of place in the residual facts of the landscape, providing a cognitive mapping which situates one through visual clues and landmarks. As an artist, the notion of landscape as being as much a part of ourselves as our own skin is compelling. In particular, the urban industrial landscape is a site which places dwellers in contention with forces that shape it, and by extension, with one’s self. Being in it, being dependent on it for a living and for community is to be defined by it. The human presence is noted through absence, along with forms and structures that are obviously no longer in use, the physical presence of a vanished situation. Artist photo bookworks offer this experience as well as allowing a more complete narrative environment for the images.
Photo above by Renee Yamada
Quartet #1 is from my Urban Palimpsests series. The subject is the built and natural environment, the places they intersect and the ephemeral nature of these interactions. Because of the mutability of place, I return repeatedly, revisiting and watching, observing and documenting. In Quartet #1, the ground being remediated and leveled on a demolition site was ever changing as it was graded by heavy equipment. The final images were quartered and can be rearranged by the viewer, which replicates the activity within the photographs. This wall piece is an excerpt from the artist book version.