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  • <i>Home, Destrehan, Louisiana</i>, negative 1998, print 2012
     
     

    Home, Destrehan, Louisiana, negative 1998, print 2012

    “Throughout Cancer Alley homes, schools, and playgrounds are situated yards from behemoth industrial complexes. Residents within a one-mile radius of factories are subjected to significant air and water pollution as well as noxious odors and industrial noise. Many communities along the River Road live in abject poverty. The quality of life in Louisiana has been rated one of the lowest in the nation. In contrast, extremely favorable taxation policies have helped draw industry to the region. One-quarter of the nation’s petrochemicals are manufactured here. The oil industry alone generates over $65 billion annually.” – Richard Misrach

     

    Richard Misrach, American, born 1949, Home, Destrehan, Louisiana, negative 1998, print 2012, Inkjet print, Commissioned with funds from the H. B. and Doris Massey Charitable Trust, Lucinda W. Bunnen, and High Museum of Art Enhancement Fund, 2012.5

    Richard Misrach
    Richard Misrach, American, born 1949, Swamp and Pipeline, Geismar, Louisiana,
    negative 1998, print 2012, Inkjet print, Commissioned with funds from the H. B.
    and Doris Massey Charitable Trust, Lucinda W. Bunnen,
    and High Museum of Art Enhancement Fund
    2012.7

    In 1998, the High commissioned California-based photographer Richard Misrach to create a body of work as part of the Museum’s Picturing the South series.

    Misrach studied the ecological degradation of a passage of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. This is an area where a number of petro-chemical industries are based and which is sometimes referred to as Cancer Alley.  Like the Western landscapes for which Misrach is best known, these photographs challenge viewers with environmental and political concerns while seducing them with evocative and lyrically beautiful large scale prints.  In focusing on the delicate state of the Mississippi River, Misrach’s work signals not just the environmental challenges facing the South but also the larger costs of our modern world at the dawn of the twenty first century. 

    To mark the culmination and publication of this body of work in 2012, more than a decade after the project was initiated, a group of twenty-one large scale prints are presented here.  This is the first time that many of these important photographs have been shown to a broad public.