Photographer and Assistant Professor Jeremiah Ariaz’s work is currently on display in the group show, “No Place in Particular: Images of the American Landscape” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, Florida.
The exhibition investigates the visual, societal, and ecological consequences of postwar development, as the participating photographers reveal the ordinary in a manner that encourages contemplation of modern land-use practices and the particulars of place. The photographs included depict landscapes modified to accommodate suburban sprawl and poorly planned development that has eroded the character of the American landscape such that it has become difficult to distinguish one place from the next. Also on display at MOCA is the seminal photography series “Tulsa,” by Larry Clark, and “Shared Vision” featuring the work of historically renowned photographers including Walker Evans, Alec Soth, and Sally Mann, among others.
Since the end of World War II, largely due to a constantly increasing population and government subsidy, suburbia has exploded across the nation’s landscape. While the phenomenon has given many people the opportunity to own homes and escape from the problems they face in cities, conversely, developing suburbanization has homogenized the landscape, fragmented vast amounts of natural habitat, and exacerbated our dependency on the automobile.
The photographs included in this exhibition are of specific places many of us have never seen, yet they probably seem strikingly familiar to most Americans. They depict landscapes that have been modified to accommodate suburban sprawl and symbolize our ambivalent feelings towards the natural world. Poorly planned development has eroded the character of the American landscape to such an extent that it has become difficult to distinguish one place from the next. Photographers started to address these issues in the 1960s. As many Americans moved from traditional compact neighborhoods to sprawling suburbs, photographers began to shift from capturing the grandeur of nature to the sobering realities of modern development. Artists such as Robert Adams and Lewis Baltz rejected the wilderness imagery popular in the first half of the 20th century. They attempted to capture what they believed to be a more accurate representation of the American landscape, which was, and still is, littered with tract homes, strip malls, billboards, and domesticated versions of nature.
The photographers of this exhibition, continuing in the tradition that Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, and their contemporaries established, investigate the visual, societal, and ecological consequences of postwar development. They show us the ordinary in a unique and thoughtful manner that encourages contemplation regarding modern land-use practices and the particulars of place. These photographs are a testament to our culture and the dynamic nature of contemporary landscape photography. Participating photographers: Jeremiah Ariaz, Bryon Darby, Jeff Rich, Matt Siber, Amy Stein, Michael Vahrenwald and, Scott Wheeler.
The show will remain open through November 6 with an opening reception on Friday, September 16, 6:00-9:00 p.m. as part of PhotoJax, the Jacksonville Photography Festival. For more information about the festival, visit www.photojax.org
The Museum of Contemporary Art is located at 333 North Laura Street in Jacksonville. For more information call (904) 366-6911
Or visit mocajacksonville.org