Revisiting Documerica

June 3 - July 7, 2017 | Newspace, Portland, OR | Venue website

artists

Shane Anderson | Sarah Christianson | Peter Crabtree | Donna De Cesare | Elizabeth Gritzmacher | Sara Quinn | Stephen Slappe | Terray Sylvester | Linda Wysong

overview

In Response: Revisiting the Documerica Photography Project presented the work of nine artists whose image-based work documents the correlation between environmental problems and issues of race, gender, place, age, class, occupation, health care, lifestyle and others. The projects were selected from submissions responding to an open call Newspace announced in early 2017 for work inspired by the Documerica Photography Project—a program initiated by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1971 to document the human connection to environmental issues.

images

Coming soon!

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION:

Revisiting Documerica presented the work of nine artists whose image-based work documented the correlation between environmental problems and issues of race, gender, place, age, class, occupation, health care, lifestyle and others. The projects were selected from submissions responding to an open call Newspace announced in early 2017 for work inspired by the Documerica Photography Project—a program initiated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1971 to document the human connection to environmental issues.

The contemporary projects reveal little-known stories of the disproportionate impact that big industry and personal interests have on our environment. They were presented alongside a digital slideshow of images from the historical Documerica project. This exhibition occurred at a watershed moment not unlike the one from which Documerica was born (the celebration of the first Earth Day in 1970 and the formation of the EPA in 1971) with a similar sense of urgency stemming from an oppositional impetus. The new White House adminstration has made a clear statement on its position towards the environment with the appointment of an EPA director who has promised a systemic dismantling of the agency’s oversight, and substantial de-regulation of environmental protections. This comes at a period of record global temperatures and frequent natural disasters that have scientifically been linked to climate change. Revisiting Documerica focused on the significance of cross-national communication and collaboration to provide a consistent picture of the impact our priorities have on the viability of our planet.

ABOUT THE DOCUMERICA PHOTOGRAPHY PROJECT:

In 1971, the newly formed EPA announced the initiative Documerica—a photography project to document the environmental changes the American landscape had undergone leading up to the formation of the agency. This endeavor was modeled after the famed Farm Security Administration (FSA) project (1935-1944) where photographers and writers were hired by the government to document the conditions of rural poverty during the New Deal era. Similarly, Documerica aimed to legitimize the efforts of the EPA in regulating industrial polluters and raising awareness to the individual culpability of American consumers whose wasteful habits were proven to increasingly affect the environment. Seventy photographers – from famous to unknown – were sent on 115 assignments across all 50 states from 1972 to 1978 to create a “visual baseline” from which environmental progress could be charted, and were furthermore tasked with capturing on camera “the human connection” to environmental issues. The resulting 20,000+ images linked issues of race, gender, place, age, class, occupation, health care, lifestyle and more to environmental problems. A slideshow of select images from Documerica will be on view at Newspace during this exhibition.

Read more about Documerica here.

Press

Lauren Kershner, "A 1970s-Era Federal Photography Program Gets Resurrected in Portland,” Portland Monthly, June 2017 print edition (published online May 15, 2017)