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Explore the impacts of military activity on the American landscape—and the ways in which photography supports activism in response to these effects.
Devour the Land shines a light on the unexpected and often hidden consequences of militarism on habitats and well-being in the United States. Featuring approximately 160 photographs across 6 thematic groupings, the exhibition reveals the nationwide footprint of the U.S. military, the wide network of industries that support and supply its work, and the impacts of—and responses to—this activity.
How do photographs portray environmental damage that can be difficult to see, much less identify and measure? By posing such questions, the exhibition provides visitors a space to consider our current challenges and shared future. At the same time, the works on view also suggest how preparations for war and the aftermath can sometimes lead to surprising instances of ecological regeneration and change.
Following a trajectory that originates in the Civil War era, Devour the Land begins with the 1970s, a dynamic period for both environmental activism and photography. From there, the focus expands to our contemporary moment.
The 60 artists showcased in the exhibition bring a variety of practices and approaches to their work. They range from professional photographic artists and photojournalists to lesser known and emerging photographers; they include Robert Adams, Federica Armstrong, Sheila Pree Bright, Robert Del Tredici, Terry Evans, Lucas Foglia, Sharon Gilbert, Ashley Gilbertson, Peter Goin, Joshua Dudley Greer, David T. Hanson, Zig Jackson, Stacy Kranitz, Dorothy Marder, Susan Meiselas, Richard Misrach, Barbara Norfleet, Mark Power, Jeff Rich, Sim Chi Yin, Sharon Stewart, Robert Toedter, Phil Underdown, and Will Wilson.
The majority of works on display are drawn from the Harvard Art Museums collections, including many recent acquisitions. Additional works are on loan from other Harvard repositories, North American public institutions, and private collections.
An illustrated catalogue, presenting a lively range of voices at the intersection of art, environmentalism, militarism, photography, and politics, accompanies the exhibition. Besides critical essays, nearly a hundred plates, and poems by Ed Roberson, the catalogue includes interviews with nine of the artists featured in the exhibition.
Organized by the Harvard Art Museums. Curated by Makeda Best, Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography, Harvard Art Museums.
This exhibition is made possible in part by the generosity of the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support for the project is provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Publication Fund and the Rosenblatt Fund for Postwar American Art. Related programming is supported by the M. Victor Leventritt Lecture Series Endowment Fund. Modern and contemporary art programs at the Harvard Art Museums are made possible in part by generous support from the Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art.
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