David Maisel’s large-scaled, otherworldly photographs chronicle the complex relationships between natural systems and human intervention, piecing together the fractured logic that informs them both.
Maisel’s aerial images of environmentally impacted sites explore the aesthetics and politics of open pit mines, clear-cut forests, and zones of water reclamation, framing the issues of contemporary landscape with equal measures of documentation and metaphor. As Leah Ollman states in the Los Angeles Times, “Maisel’s work over the past two decades has argued for an expanded definition of beauty, one that bypasses glamour to encompass the damaged, the transmuted, the decomposed.”
Library of Dust depicts copper canisters containing the cremated remains of patients from a psychiatric institution. Vibrant minerals bloom on the urns’ surfaces, as the copper reacts with the ashes held within. The New York Times calls Maisel’s Library of Dust monograph “a fevered meditation on memory, loss, and the uncanny monuments we sometimes recover about what has gone before.”
History’s Shadow, Maisel’s current project, further explores the boundaries and essential properties of the medium, as he re-photographs x-rays of art objects, drawing from existing archives the spectral visions of past cultures. As always, Maisel seeks to render the invisible.