David Maisel began photographing environmental destruction from the air after a visit to Mount St. Helens in 1983 to witness the aftermath of the volcano's explosion. He has focused his lens on land and water transformed by human impact. His work provides the viewer with a photographic abstraction that leaves few clues as to what has actually been photographed. As Vince Aletti noted in the Village Voice, "With virtually no landscape markers, Maisels chaotic, abstract, and weirdly beautiful images prompt us to meditate on the nature of representation—and the representation of nature".
Images : top two rows taken from Owens Lake 2002 except top far right - Terminal Mirage, 2002.
Left - Lake Project, 2002. Right - Owens Lake. * All images C- Print, 48 x 48 in
Images courtesy of Von Lintel Gallery. © David Maisel 2005
The Great Salt Lake is considered a “terminal” lake, in that it has no naturally occurring outlets. Around its edges are industries of varying types. In 2003, inspired by Robert Smithson's apocalyptic writings on the Great Salt Lake, he began to make aerial photographs around its perimeter, and went on to photograph much of the surreal and brutal region of the Great Basin.
David Maisels photographs have been exhibited by the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the International Museum of Photography, and others, and are in many permanent collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Lake Project was published as a monograph by Nazraeli Press in 2004