I know I’m a little late to celebrate Earth Day, but I just woke up to some sweet treats in my inbox and I have to share. I’ve written before about how much I like photographer Eirik Johnson’s work, so I’m pleased to show selections from his new portfolio of images called Sawdust Mountain, which is due out in book form this May via Aperture. Of his pictures taken along the Northwest coast, Johnson says, “SAWDUST MOUNTAIN tells the story of the tenuous relationship between industries reliant upon natural resources and the communities they support.”
Johnson positions himself as impassive observer through his pale, withdrawn aesthetic. In his best images, judgment is superseded by the simple record. Many of his images are so timeless as to recall the 19th century photographs of the west and its imminent expansion.
The sense of scale lends itself to the awe inspiring sublime; to live and work in such an environment is to be dwarfed by nature itself.
And of course the rural Northwest has a contemporary mythos of its own. Home to such disparate characters as Kurt Cobain and the vampires of Twilight, its brooding darkness suggests an introspection not found in sunnier locales.
Perhaps most present is the great sense of industry, of struggle between nature and humanity, of the brute force necessary to eke out a living from the earth.
Although a solid wood table may cost a thousand dollars or more in a store, it’s more than obvious that the money doesn’t go to the loggers, that somewhere down the line retailers and middlemen eat up the profits, and that the people living closest to the land are left living hand to mouth.
Sawdust Mountain has an air of desperation and abandonment, much like that of another blue collar community, Detroit.
Beautiful, but sad. And I can’t leave you on a Friday feeling down and out, so I have one more present for you, courtesy of DC reader awesomus maximus, Cristina.
So, speaking of natural resources, while it’s hard to feel contempt for the loggers, it’s somewhat easier to hate on fat cat oil execs who love nothing more than to chant the mantra, Drill Baby, Drill. And why not when there’s gold in them there hills? And oceans? And arctic refuges? To commemorate their extraordinary greed, I present this golden oil derrick music box. What song do you suppose it plays?
Singing dolla dolla bill, y’all… Dolla dolla bill, y’all!
Have a good weekend, my special peeps. I’m off to Ikea to, uh, probably buy some stuff made out of wood. Or whatever Ikea “wood” is made from…