Depictions of the outdoors in national archives photographs, advertising campaigns for recreation gear, and tourist social media posts have uncanny similarities. Together, they represent a choreography of the outdoors, a nearly imperceptible and ongoing relationship between colonizing, capital, and experience. This installation highlights and complicates these connections.
In “Developed, Developing” collaborator Katie Hargrave and I call attention to the ways in which history and industry shape outdoor enthusiasts contemporary experiences in so-called public land. The images photographers on 19th century US Geological Surveys captured helped facilitate the annexation of land into US governmental control. These archival photographs are echoed in the imagery outdoor gear manufacturers use to advertise their products. In turn, these conventions are mirrored in social media posts outdoor enthusiasts share to document their travels.
Developed, Developing Lenticular prints, prints on lexjet, vinyl sheeting, pine, notions 2022 Installed at the Knoxville Museum of Art in the exhibition "Re-Pair", part of the 2023 Tennessee Triennial
This project takes the language of developed campgrounds (a phrase used to signal campsites with a particular level of infrastructure) and the processes of developing photographs as its title and its conceptual frame. We consider the ways in which photography and the conservation of lands might appear to be neutral, and yet are integral to the ongoing project of settler colonialism and related to the ideology of capitalism.
Found imagery from Utah State University Special Collections and Archives, the National Park Service Archives, and the Getty Research Institute. Instagram images courtesy of @timhalbergphoto, @bre.streiss, @natreynoso, @bitterrootbackpacking, @ashley_tran__, @plantcookeat, @alexmmdw, @brookebeyond_
Installation view of "Re-Pair" at the Knoxville Museum of Art. Also featuring work by Willie Cole, Bessie Harvey, Lonnie Holley, Kahlil Robert Irving, Suzanne Jackson, Mary Laube, Annabeth Marks, Rosemary Mayer, Althea Murphy-Price, Betye Saar, and Faith Wilding.