No Ordinary Land: Encounters in a Changing Environment
Photographs by Virginia Beahan and Laura McPhee
Introduction by Rebecca Solnit
Afterword by John McPhee
Large landscape format, app. 31 x 27 cm. 108 pages, 73 colour pictures
Virginia Beahan and Laura McPhee explore the ways people interact with the landscapes in which they live. For more than ten years they have traveled the world—from Iceland to Costa Rica, Sri Lanka to New York—uncovering in their photographs a complex weave of human attitudes, both humble and arrogant, in the face of natural elements. As Rebecca Solnit writes in her introduction, "Their images show us a world in metamorphosis, where categories melt and mutate. . . . This is a world where natural sites become shrines and shrines become works of art that represent the landscape; where stone is carved into both sculptures of bodies and homes for bodies; where water is sometimes holy water and sometimes for irrigating crops."
In Costa Rica, for example, healing waters are enshrined in frescoed concrete; in a Hawaiian garden, mangoes and oranges are protected against the cold in brown, paper bag jackets; in Iceland, children play in hot springs created by the runoff of a power plant; in Las Vegas, an artificial volcano erupts on cue. Each of Beahan and McPhee's extraordinary images captures a point of intersection where natural and constructed worlds collide. Their work creates a powerful visual map of the forces of mythology and culture at work in the landscape.
In 1987, Laura McPhee and Virginia Beahan began their photographic work together. Through the use of a large-format camera they are able to jointly participate in this unique collaboration—a process discussed with humor and warmth in John McPhee's afterword, "Laura and Virginia." They have received support for their photography from numerous sources including the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the New England Foundation for the Arts, the Polaroid Corporation, and the Turner Foundation, Inc.
Hardcover // ISBN: 0-89381-733-3
Text from aperture (publisher)