This Land is My Land
The idea of owning land has a long and complicated history in the American consciousness, and the longer I own land, the less I seem to understand it. I’ve lived on and off in the Catskills for nearly 25 years, and have been a homeowner several times over. I’ve witnessed my relationship to the land shift from idealized reverence to selfish coveting to utilitarian indifference and back again many times. I’ve also observed the same complex contradictory feelings in my friends, family and neighbors as manifested in the way they live. By documenting the way we live and the surrounding landscape, both public and private, I am trying to reconcile my own relationship with the land as I struggle to live and maintain a home within a rural setting.
The images from this project are not meant as an indictment, but rather a self-reflexive examination of the visual residue left behind in our attempts to live within and live off of our natural surroundings. These scenes are hidden in plain sight, often transient and easily dismissed, and yet in many ways they are the most concrete demonstrations and evidence of how behavior and attitude, both individual and collective, affects our immediate surroundings and shapes our consciousness. And while we subscribe to the notion that land can be owned and manipulated by us, we also bear witness to how the effects of nature over time degrade and destroy even our most monumental efforts to build and maintain our own habitat.