This week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast spotlights "Petrochemical America," a new book by artist Richard Misrach and landscape architect Kate Orff. The book examines the industrialized Mississippi River corridor between Baton Rouge, La., and New Oreleans. The region is infamous for its density of petrochemical plants and for high rates of disease, particularly cancer.
The book features Misrach’s pictures, commissioned by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and landscape architect Kate Orff’s Ecological Atlas, a series of narratives that establish a relationship between Misrach’s photographs, the region and man-made and ecological forces. An exhibition of Misrach’s and Orff’s work is on view now in the project room at Aperture’s New York gallery through October 6. Misrach’s ‘Cancer Alley’ pictures are on view at the High through October 7. (The book is also published by Aperture. Amazon lists it at $30 off.)
Misrach’s work is in the collection of virtually every major museum in America. He is best known for his large-format color pictures of dramatic, often disastrous human interventions in the landscape. He has also made moving photographs of disasters, such as the 1991 East Bay Fire and the aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina. I reviewed Misrach’s extraordinary post-Katrina book "Destroy This Memory" here and here.
On the second segment, Orff discusses her contribution to the project. She is the principal of SCAPE, a landscape architecture and urban design office. Her practice revolves about how to encourage and enact sustainable development and biodiversity through landscape. She teaches at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and her work has been exhibited in museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York.