Waste land | David T. Hanson

Waste Land
David T. Hanson
Preface by Wendell Berry
Afterword by Jimena Canales
Essay by David T. Hanson
176 pages, 136 color plates
9.8 x 12 inches

In 1980, from more than 400,000 toxic waste sites throughout the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency declared 400 of these highly hazardous and in need of immediate attention. In just a few years, the number of these “Superfund” sites more than tripled. Though they constitute a shocking degradation of our landscape, Superfund sites are never seen by most Americans. But over the course of a year, beginning in 1985, David T. Hanson traveled to 45 states on a Guggenheim Fellowship to make aerial photographs of 67 of them, documenting a cross-section of both U.S. geography and its ravaging by industrial waste in one artistic odyssey.

Hanson’s Waste Land series, published here in its entirety for the first time, is a master photographer’s meditation on the country’s most dangerously polluted places. Each work in the series juxtaposes the artist’s photograph with a topographic map and the EPA’s own description of the site’s history and hazards.

Although the photographs were made over thirty years ago, they seem even more relevant today, given our growing concerns about energy production, environmental degradation, and climate change. As Wendell Berry describes in his moving foreword, “Hanson’s art is here put forthrightly to the use of showing us what most of us, in fact, have not seen before, do not wish to see now, and yet must see if we are to save ourselves and our land from such work and such results. He has given us the topography of our open wounds.”