DAVID MAISEL/BLACK MAPS
American Landscape and the Apocalyptic Sublime
DAVID MAISEL/BLACK MAPS is a survey of four chapters of Maisel’s larger ongoing series titled Black Maps. Composed of large-scale photographs, this exhibition leads the viewer on a hallucinatory journey through landscapes in the American West that have been transformed through the physical and environmental effects of industrial-scale water diversion projects, open-pit mineral extraction, and urban sprawl. Maisel’s powerful aerial photographs exist as aesthetic and political archives documenting the impact of both human consumption and inhabitation. More than mere records, these photographs evoke sublime beauty and apocalyptic destruction, positioning Maisel at the forefront of a complex new approach to framing and interpreting issues of contemporary landscape and culture. Maisel’s mineral-based, painterly color prints transform poisonous human-altered landscapes into subjects and objects of extreme beauty while simultaneously unveiling the magnitude of hidden ecological devastation that punctuates the vast interior of the American West, a space that is often represented in the visual, cinematic, and literary arts as endless and eternal.
DAVID MAISEL/BLACK MAPS features twenty-eight pigment prints from four series created between 1989 and 2007. Selections from The Lake Project, The Mining Project and American Mine, Terminal Mirage, and Oblivion engage with the most apparent levels of environmental, land-use, and sustainability issues, but the photographs function on both documentary and metaphorical levels. Although these photographs evidence devastation, they also transcribe a profoundly disturbing psychic landscape that depicts a shattered reality of our own making.
Organized by The CU Art Museum, University of Colorado Boulder. Curated by Lisa Tamiris Becker, Director, University of New Mexico Art Museum and Helmut Müller-Sievers, Eaton Professor of Humanities and Director of the Center for Humanities and the Arts, University of Colorado Boulder.