Richard Misrach: Desert Cantos

This exhibition is now closed

The man-mauled desert, not the pure unsullied wilderness, is the theme for this selection of superb colour photographs by a leading contemporary American photographer. Richard Misrach has been exhibiting in the USA for the past 15 years, is represented in numerous publications and has works in public and private collections throughout America and in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, The Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris and the National Gallery in Canberra.

In the tradition of 19th century photographers like Timothy O'Sullivan who captured the stunning images of the then unexplored American West, Richard Misrach's views are truly spectacular. They also have a technical quality rarely seen in this county. This time, however, it is not the pure unsullied wilderness "where God is and Man is not" but the land "stained and trampled, franchised and fenced, burned, flooded, grazed, mined, exploited and laid waste". The message is that once we come to terms with this man-mauled desert we can begin to see the beauties that are still there. We are shown the vast airy spaces, the terrible beauty of flame, and the panorama of signs and habitations left by man's intrusion.

Some will have caught Richard Misrach's lecture at the Gallery earlier this year but for all those who missed this opportunity of meeting the artist it is planned to show a video film made during his visit. Richard Misrach: Desert Cantos is organised by the national Art Gallery for this New Zealand tour.

('Richard Misrach: Desert Cantos', Bulletin, No.60, November/December 1988, p.3)