Love Canal - Statement

Love Canal is an examination of the relationship between ecosystems, the human body, and extractive economies. Nestled just outside of Niagara Falls the sleepy town of Love Canal, NY became headline news in 1979 when an entire working-class community learned they had been unknowingly poisoned by leaking dioxin containers buried just below the asphalt. A few decades earlier, in the 1950’s, an industrial company dumped thousands of gallons of chemicals underground and sold that parcel of land to the Niagara Falls school board for one dollar. Fifteen years later the mothers of Love Canal began reporting extremely high rates of birth defects, miscarriages, and childhood leukemia.

Today, wildlife like mullein and milkweed thrive despite elevated toxicity levels that remain ever-present within the landscape. Driveways to nowhere, broken streetlights, and decommissioned fire hydrants mark the empty streets adjacent to a fenced off piece of land where the 99th Street School used to sit. But, in and around the containment zone (which seems eerily quiet now as nature reclaims it), are the stories of women who fought for the right to a safe and healthy environment. The intersections of race, class, gender, and housing are inextricably linked to the struggle as well, which ultimately led to the inception of North Americas first Superfund. Broader themes in the series also explore adaptation, toxicity, reproduction, mutation, and survival - with a focus on the interconnectedness of our fragile ecosystem and the human body.

Nuclear Winter - Statement 

At 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945, an unfathomable flash of light stretched across the vast expanse of desert sky in Alamogordo, NM.  The atomic sublime – born at this moment without referent – unleashed a new era of fallout, fear, and post-modern dread. Over the next few decades, drifting radioactive debris from nuclear testing carried out a silent, molecular attack on the DNA of downwind communities across the American West. Trinity, the first of countless ecologically devastating explosions, also marked the inception of a covert government program which calculated, measured, and monitored the effects of this fallout. Decades later, declassified government documents revealed that the people and animals inhabiting these sacrifice zones were known collateral damage, otherwise referred to as “a low use segment of the population”. 

Set against the backdrop of Cold War inspired architecture, Nuclear Winter investigates the visual manifestation of atomic anxiety, both physically and psychologically. Since the inception of the Manhattan Project, the geographical topographies of our modern landscape have been forever altered by underground nuclear waste containment systems, decommissioned bomb shelters, hidden government laboratories, and test sites built to withstand the blast of a hundred suns. Across cities and college campuses, the un-loving grey concrete of brutalist monuments still tower overhead – eternally poised and ready for attack – while suburban fallout shelters have transformed into backyard time capsules. These anachronistic ­relics serve to memorialize the fears of a society on the perceived brink of impending annihilation. But the day-to-day horrors of the nuclear project wrought a more insidious violence. From atomic test site veterans to frontline communities burdened with radioactive waste, long-term effects on the human body range from rare types of cancer to miscarriage, and genetic mutation. 

We All Live Downwind - Statement  

The images in We All Live Downwind are culled from daily headlines – inspired by global and grassroots struggles against the forces of privatization in the face of disaster capitalism. In The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein writes about the free market driven exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries saying, “the original disaster—the coup, the terrorist attack, the market meltdown, the war, the tsunami, the hurricane — puts the entire population into a state of collective shock”. The scenes in We All Live Downwind, have been carved out of dystopian landscapes in the aftermath of these events.  

On the surface, rubble hints at layers of oil and shale, cracked and bubbling from the earth below. Rising from another mound, rows of empty mobile homes bake beneath the summer sun. The bust of small towns left dry in the aftermath of supply and demand. In this place, only fragments of people remain, their mechanical gestures left tending to the chaos on auto. Reduced to survival, their struggle against an increasingly hostile environment goes unnoticed. Beyond the upheaval of production a bending highway promises never ending expansion - and that low rumble you hear to the west is getting louder.  

Oil + Water - Statement 

In Oil + Water,  Kate Levy and Shanna Merola combine their photographic work to examine connections between the oil and gas industry, privatization of water, and heightened militarization of local police agencies. Through an investigation on the cause and effect of disaster economies, the work explores post-industrial landscapes marked by environmental collapse, political unrest and the resistance work of frontline communities. Together and separately, Levy and Merola  have documented the water struggle in Detroit and Flint, Standing Rock, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, New Orleans post Katrina and the Bakken Shale fracking boom in North Dakota.

Using Format