“We stand as growing women and men. Murmurs come down
where water has not run for sixty years.
Murmurs from the tulip tree and the catalpa, from the ax of
the stars, from the house on fire, ringing of glass; from
the abandoned iron-black mill.”
Redwood Saw is a book about a story the size of a thumbnail, writ large on a scale at once epic and parochial. It is a book undeniably characterised by a deep affirmatory reverence for life, but one that is well apprised of the fact that the odds, increasingly, are not in our favour. The photographs that make up this volume depend upon and endeavour to set forth a coherent commonality between a small group of people, and the land that they have inhabited over the course of a steady and irrepressible decline that is at once quintessentially post-industrial, and characteristically American. Rothman’s photographs seek cumulatively to bring the history of that decline to the surface of the image, to draw it up from its depths in order to give scope to the scale of devastation that has touched both the forests, and their neighbouring town. The visible sense of this history also emphasises to us the appalling length of this unbroken record of neglect, cynicism and incompetence in the stewardship of this small town, and the larger culture for which it stands.
The story recounted in the book is framed by imagery that evokes the largest and most ancient cycles of life, beginning and ending with light, water and the thrusting vitality of a dense forest – drawing not just our mythical Creation into the frame, but the birth and refashioning of the American nation as well. In this the book becomes about beginnings and endings, about the beginnings of a little mining, fishing and timber town, and the stubborn steady pace of retrenchment from so many solitary and dying small towns across the country. In the westward sweep of the book’s narrative arc there lies a question about manifest destiny and the romanticised beginnings of America, one that has to do with the urgent necessity for a drastically improved compact between policy and the citizenry, but also between the populace and the place in which it lives.
The unifying dynamic in the Redwood Saw photographs is the way that complementary forms describe a particular and common physiognomy, one that ties together the disparate landscapes, abstracts and portraits that make up the work. Images echo each other throughout. People resemble trees we later see on walls in spaces that look like clearings; doors begin to mimic whole houses, and the overfull boot of a Honda echoes the wagons of the old frontier. A reciprocal integrity builds up from the groups of images, and in the cohesive specificity of the world described, larger histories begin to suggests themselves.
The photographs in Redwood Saw are made up of a range synonymous with the arc of nearly two centuries of modern history – both that of the country and the medium of photography. The classical poise of a Nadar portrait is here transposed to an image that recalls the munificence of imaginary timber barons, except that in Rothman’s portrait the baron is nude — nude in such a dignified way that his authority is undiminished. Arbus peeks through the tall foliage of another portrait in which a tall, elegant, bespectacled man cradles his small dog in the back garden, posed regally beside a strange, small above-ground water feature whose deep grey-black surface recalls the pepper from a Weston still life. Here we find everything from the grand church to the lowly janitor, the middle American and the timber baron, the shiftless and the saved. Rothman’s ‘big American story’ describes a prism of sufficient breadth that through it a broader history of America might be refracted, and it consists in a world made up of vulnerability that is treated with an evenness and straightforward sobriety, resilience that is given depth and harsh texture, aimlessness and its restless ennui. Woven in among its many layers and scales is a tapestry of photography’s history put to the service of a portrait as bleak as the circumstance in which its hard-used subjects exist.
“One thing led to another. I had a feeling about the people that made me want to do the portraits in the first place. I followed the water. I was picking up on what at first I thought of as this tremendous vulnerability and I was relating that vulnerability to what I was experiencing in the forest amid the precious remains of its once magnificent expanse. I was relating it to the way in which economic forces are bearing down upon this kind of environment, and the people themselves, caught up in what, for lack of a better term, I must call an ‘unsustainable cultural and economic reality’”
— Richard Rothman, in “The Franz Kafka of Wilderness Photographers”, an interview from the monograph Redwood Saw
To give this story some context, Crescent City is a town two square miles in size with a population of roughly 8,000 people including the inmates of Pelican Bay State Penitentiary, who number over 3,400 despite a maximum capacity of roughly 2,500. Prison overpopulation flatters the size of this modest small town. It is furthermore a tiny town in the context of the state of California, and the state has shut down forty percent of its sawmills since the year 2000. Having opened its first sawmill in 1853, by 1955 the mills numbered 52 county-wide, and yet as of 2009 only seventeen remained.
Add to this the rapid decline of its fisheries, and Crescent City can be seen as emblematic of a wide swathe of single or dual-industry failures that balloon and then eviscerate small town life across the nation. But for the absence of a university with a medical department, the town might at one point have joined the growing ranks of those towns that now rely on hospitals and medical schools to replace the disappearing low-end service sector work that previously might have included mining, milling, trucking, fishing, factory work and farming. It bears remembering, however unfortunate that loss might appear, that there is little scope for social mobility for lower income families dependent on working in the healthcare sector if they have no university qualifications…
All of which is to say that the story of Crescent City’s travails is a Rosetta Stone for a pernicious and viral malaise affecting so many families and small towns in which dependence on industrial jobs has compelled those in work to accept lesser and lesser security, wages or protections, whilst those without or soon to be unemployed can look forward to very little, if any long-term opportunity.
“all the work I had been doing for all those years was really about what drives me nuts about American culture. It had been socially critical work, work that I was instinctively drawn to. To photograph those things that I found banal and disturbing. I asked myself what it might be like to try and make celebratory work. I had been to the Muir Woods, which was one of the most beautiful places I had ever come across. So I booked a flight—but to the northern range of coastal redwoods, because first of all I hadn’t already seen it. I spent that first trip, three weeks, in a tent in the forest, by myself, photographing every day… It was the most visually stimulating environment I had ever been in. And, yes, what a differentiated pleasure, after so many years of photographing the things that were disturbing to me, to be photographing in a place that was so articulated and ancient, and that possessed a scale I had not experienced—except for what it is like to look up into a star-filled sky—as far as making me feel really small in a way that I enjoy immensely.
So it all clicked on that level, and I had no idea it would turn into what it turned into, but I quickly discovered that this forest is really just a very tiny fragment of what was originally there—it’s estimated that the remaining old-growth redwoods are about five percent of the original forest, and that might be a generous estimate. What remains are these museum-like areas that feel huge when you go into them, but the longer you are there, and the more you explore them, the more you recognize how fenced in the forest is, how limited, in comparison with what has been lost. And this stand of protected forest, where I was tenting and photographing, was adjacent to a small town called Crescent City, which had originally been covered with forest that grew all the way down to the ocean. I’d go into the town for my supplies, and the more I went the more it sank in that what I had come out here to do maybe wasn’t what I was going to do. Here was the better story: It had to be about shooting in both the forest and the town. So, on my second trip, I had the whole forest experience again, but it was also on this second trip that I began to shoot the town as well.“
— as above, from “The Franz Kafka of Wilderness Photographers”.
Redwood Saw is the beneficiary of a long and inventive history of books about America, and of storytelling that has been inspired by the experience of venturing out into the wilderness of the nation. The book’s Whitmanesque beginnings in the midst of a deep forest are evocative of the romantic figure of the solitary poet heading off into the wild, shedding the trappings of city life for a deeper communion with the vast bounties of a virginal land. These echoes not only exist, but are in some senses sought after or reinforced as one of the multiple layers on which the early sequence of forest photographs delivers the principal themes of the book. However, Rothman is not interested in a romanticism that admits the ‘splendour in the grass’ but neglects the ravages of prospecting and its abject human and environmental cost. His photographs offer up a more dour and less idealistic disposition, and in the progression of the earliest images remind me of John Gossage’s The Pond.
In The Pond we see the determinedly elliptical photographer’s eye alight on incidental pockets and parcels of beauty, and on strange indices of violence and degradation in a setting that bears all the blight and the blessings of man’s troublesome pact with man, and with the natural world. Gossage’s photographs delight in rhapsody at occasional turns, but their delight in the grooves of a bike wheel track, or the cadence of effervescent light atop a canopy of shrubbery is tempered by the lacklustre suburbs and business parks that border his narrow path and slender screens of trees. His book charts a course that appears to follow the filament of that narrow path up to the point at which the shrubbery subsides, the copse begins to dissolve and the drabness of asphalt and squatness of warehouses start to leech away whatever traces of reverie might have remained. Rothman’s book also charts a route along a journey — albeit one not laid out in the earth so much as determined by the photographer’s particular inclinations. Moreover, along the length of that pathway he tempers those transcendental forest revelations with the grim skeletal residue of logging, the occasionally collapsed trunk or bough of a tree foreshadowing the casual devastation of the logging scenes and the town yet to come.
The Gossage reference is instructive in as much as his Pond photographs deconsecrated the halcyon idyll of the ‘Wanderer through the wilderness’ without dismissing nature’s irreducible appeal. He did this by dispatching romanticism and introducing a sober accounting of our exploitative transactions with the natural world, and the ways in which the romance of numinous truisms distracts us from these facts. Rothman has his own motives, and he freely admits them in the book, but his are images that have sought out traces of a degradation that has come to define the town and its desperate hopes, and his photographs are made in imaginative sympathy with the town’s bleakest prospects and best aspirations.
The early imagery of the forest sequence achieves another narrative end, in that it not only brings the question of time into focus in its various scales, but virility too. The dark chaotic tangles of branch and trunk and root are evidence of a stubborn and vital form of life that is everywhere resisting, exploding, yielding and persisting against the passage of time. In the smooth mercury sheen of Rothman’s black and white tones those trees switch from three down to two dimensions, becoming alternately a constructivist collage or an action painting – toying with our focus. The craze of those tangles of branch and leaf and root is rendered in so graphic a way that it can reverse out the depth of the image, and leave us with a sort of fossilised imprint etched on its surface — a skeletal or genetic imprint on which the basic form of life is inscribed, complete with all its drives and urges. This is a vitality that Rothman has observed elsewhere, and one that recurs over time in numerous landscapes and portraits. A certain fecundity or erotic vitality is depicted in the tangled depths of the forest, and mirrored in the forthright posture of a buxom young girl surrounded by an overgrowth of flowering bushes. Crescent City is undoubtedly at the heel, on the margins, or near the edge as we find it in these photographs, but there is that same force of stubborn life pulsing away undeterred, resolute, unwilling to relinquish its rights.
The figures that represent analogues to Rothman’s trees in so many of the later photographs are the people he renders up in portrait form. As we encounter those individuals who give the book’s emotional depth a recognisably human touch, they recall and expand the resonance of those early images of trees — those whose growth seemed infinite, and those whose splintered trunks cut jagged lines across the frame. The portraits begin to strengthen and at the same time reveal the ties that bind these people to this small stable of quiet earth. In purely formal terms these photographs share little if anything in common with the work of Paul Strand, but the imperative to uncover and interweave an identity between land and inhabitant is one that Strand followed to such rhetorical excellence it is hard to imagine that Rothman could have remained unaffected. In Strand’s work, particularly in Italy, France and New England, we see the poetic revelation of a unity of bearing between those people that inhabit a community, and the objects and environments that populate its physical space. That same coherence characterises the interplay between the vast majority of portraits and the landscapes in Redwood Saw: age and dilapidation are echoed in the forest and the town, and in echoing each other they reinforce a sense of isolation and also of dogged resolve, they introduce the inevitably arduous struggle to persist that characterises this remote town’s lot.
“Art asserts that nothing is banal, which is to say that a serious landscape picture is a metaphor“
In the precise centre of the Redwood Saw book is a seemingly unremarkable landscape of two single-story storefronts, sandwiched on either side by a pair of portraits: one, the image on the tipped-in cover of the book, the other a remarkable nude of a tattooed middle-aged woman stood on what look to be the back steps of her house. Leaving the portraits aside, it is the landscape that speaks to the severity of decline in the city as a whole, and its’ likely prospects for that city’s inhabitants. In it is a store window for Sachs Dolmar Chain Saws, and above the illustration of a chainsaw are set the words “Since 1927″. In the windows of the neighbouring shop is a sign saying “Sorry… We’re Closed”, hung inside a store that sells power equipment, some of which is made by a company called Pioneer Partner.
The landscape condenses a story about the ambit of the American West, from those prospectors and pioneers who in the years when the first mill was opened near Crescent City would have seen the trade of supplies for lumberjacks and mills as a route to a prosperous future, tradesmen who evidently weathered the immense hardships of the Great Depression that struck not two years after Sachs Dolmar was established, but whose businesses now stand empty, fallow and dejected. Three generations of a Crescent City family could have witnessed a boom so intense that the bust that has followed must still seem an impossible nightmare. We wonder when looking at this image in which the book’s title is depicted whether that store will remain open long enough to mark its centenary? And should it not manage to do so, will anyone or anything replace it?
Perhaps more than any other, the influence of Robert Adams might best synthesise the central themes in which Redwood Saw is interested: use and misuse of land; a wanton and unthinking neglect of the necessary bases for human dignity; the vast promise and sordid betrayal that characterise the migration to and settling of the American West; a rabid addiction to superheated profits and a disdain for their human and environmental cost; an ill-conceived confidence in our mastery of the Earth, and in our inevitability upon it. John Szarkowski finished his foreword to The New West with the words: “Though Robert Adams’s book assumes no moral postures, it does have a moral. Its moral is that the landscape is, for us, the place we live. If we have abused it, broken its health, and erected upon it memorials to our ignorance, it is still our place, and before we can proceed we must learn to love it.”
Those thematic interests and influences are part of a lineage in the history of photography that gives Redwood Saw’s contemporaneity deeper historical resonance. It is in the fact of its progenitors that Redwood Saw announces its own particular distinctions. In literal terms, both books (The New West and Redwood Saw) begin with a pathway, as in a sense does The Pond (epigrammatic pictures aside). In each the pathway is analogous to the invitation of a travelling storyteller who might announce in beginning, ‘Now come hear the tale of Crescent City’… In all three books, pursuit of the iterative but cinematic route of these paths leads to a coherent and substantial statement about the conditions of world they were made in, and as in all good storytelling the measure of that statement makes a claim for photography’s place within that world. Photography, after all, has been so bound up with the rituals of national identity, with the construction and deconstruction of so many integral myths. If we can allow that those thematic influences provide a sort of bedrock, then some time spent following the thread of Rothman’s images might be instructive.
“As Americans we are scarred by the dream of innocence. In our hearts we still believe that the only truly beautiful landscape is an unpeopled one. Unhappily, much in the record of our tenancy of this continent serves to confirm this view. So to wash our eyes of the depressing evidence we have raced deeper and deeper into the wilderness, past the last stage-coach stop and the last motel, to see and claim a section of God’s own garden before our fellows arrive to spoil it.
Now however we are beginning to realize that there is no wilderness left. The fact itself is without doubt sad, but the recognition of it is perhaps salutary. As this recognition takes firmer hold on our consciousness, it may become clear that a generous and accepting attitude toward nature requires that we learn to share the earth not only with ice, dust, mosquitoes, starlings, coyotes, and chicken hawks, but even with other people.“
Although Redwood Saw reads from left to right, the story it recounts moves steadily westward, always westward, through the riotous forest and its serene, cloistered light, past the blasted trunks and out into a small town, down along its streets and through its squat homes and on and down and out toward the sea. The trajectory of that journey mirrors that of the earliest frontiersmen, linking Rothman’s landscapes to the earliest beginnings of American landscape photography, where the camera was so much in service of uncovering and evangelising American prospects – whether in the form of land or other riches. Photography served in the consecration of new status, and confirmed completion of the transfiguration of frontier folk from immigrants to pioneers. The people we find in Rothman’s Crescent City are frontiersmen of a different sort – hardened not against the trail, but against a static struggle consisting not in discovery but a muscular effort at going on. Where conventional landscape photography had for so long proclaimed natural wonders and manifest destiny, Rothman’s (following in the vein of Adams and Gossage and Misrach) does not depict an openness that guarantees prosperity, or the attainability of new beginnings, but suggests instead that the legions of migrants who reached this coast may well have extinguished the prize in their efforts to reach for it.
The book’s opening photograph is of a difficult kind of pastoral beauty, consisting of a narrow path cut through the forest and overhung by bare limbs and grasping branches, shouldered over by sparse trunks and clamouring leaves. The pathway in this image does not so much invite us in as disappear off into a glaze of bright and indistinct foliage. When coupled with the tipped in cover image of a sullen and beautiful young girl, perched on plasterboard amid a sea of refuse bags in a backyard bedecked with a dilapidated couch and armchair, the expectation we hold is of a minimum of tender mercies with which to soften all the hard edges yet to come. As we move away from the path the boughs begin to weep and overgrow each other in a pattern resembling a mess of restless mating snakes, and the forest erupts in its unchecked primordial vitality. Rothman says in the book’s introductory interview that he stayed close to water in the forests, since in its proximity he always found light, and his is at first a forest rife with the vigorous activity of life, its landscapes constructed from the thrust and steepled cadence of trunk and branch and leaf, all of it cast in the reciprocal gradients of pooling light and tender shade. The forest photographs glide effortlessly between mêlée and order, are redolent of striving and strife and many inceptions, but also of a network at constant risk of unspooling in one frenzied instant. It’s as though they build up an electric charge on some closed circuit, and all of an instant blasted trees and broken trunks emerge, and the vertiginous trees begin to list and fold under the weight of it all. Tree stumps appear, the forest steadily thins out and we are left with the premonition of yet more atrophy to come.
What is most striking about the wreckage of the timber milling is its state of utter disorder and incompletion — its air of arbitrary devastation. The scattered shavings and severed trunks, surrounded as they are by tall untouched saplings and firs, look like the leftovers of a disinterested tornado strike during which, at some random point, the power was switched off, the heavens cleared, and what remained was left to its own broken devices. The littered fields of ruptured trees resemble the charnel house battle fields of a World War, and in this point toward a trauma far grander than that which can reasonably be ascribed to this small corner of California. It is in these sequences that what is micro-cosmic is transposed to an operatic, and far more epic scale. While the disordered husks of so many once proud trees are analogous to the plight of the Redwood Sawmill, and to the fishermen and miners and pitmen whose livelihood eventually expired here, the imagined scope of that devastation extends beyond the horizon of the images toward the landscape of a decades-long nationwide catalogue of abandonment.
We turn definitively away from the forest toward the city with an image of a Honda Civic, decorated with faux flame decals and parked in the crescent-shaped slot of a car park that borders the forest. Formally the image alludes not merely to the shape of a crescent but also to its dead-end curve, the sweep of its long blind alley. We imagine perhaps that its owner and occupants have ambled some distance off the path in search of a quiet clearing in which to spark a joint, or perhaps, in yet bleaker isolation, to huff some glue or fire up their crystal meth. Despite its apparent isolation, these and other drugs have made their way northward to this corner of the California – often with predictably distressing results. In that context this is a photograph as ambivalent as any other, but one over which the piles of battered tree husks exert some influence. In it the smooth seductions of irony run headlong into the sober business of tending to grave wounds.
The portrait of the city we encounter is characterised by a certain phlegmatic dilapidation, accented here and there by an air of indifference or sullen reservation, but equally touched by a certain circumspection. The roads feel broad and quiet, seem overlarge for a town of such small stature. There are car parks at every turn, and shrubbery seems often to be waging a battle to reclaim what industry can no longer hold. The repetition of frontal compositions of the frame houses does not merely recall Evans, but points up the modest extent to which these homes differ from some of those West Virginia miner’s homes he photographed nearly eighty years before. The pervasiveness of log homes and timber houses reinforces the acuteness of the town’s dependency on its defunct mills, but not without instances in which what we see is acknowledged to possess a deep and quiet beauty. So often, however, that beauty is marked by disrepair and degradation.
It is also in the city that the book is occasionally punctuated by an odd, anachronistic and relatively mundane image here or there – an unremarkable portrait or landscape detail that relieves emotional pressure, momentum or intensity without at the same time substantively advancing theme, or texture. In the scheme of so large and ambitious a book these are fractional in number, and are very much exceptions to the course of a thoughtful and thematically rich sequence of photographs. Nevertheless on these rare occasions there is sense that information has trumped narrative, perhaps out of a desire to be comprehensive. Those accommodations made between the detail, and the more direct arterial flow of the book’s central story seem anachronistic precisely because of the rich pairings and the layered narrative that characterises the book as a whole. It is a book full of images that cumulatively enrich the resonances at work.
It would have been difficult to conceive of so essentially American a small town story as this without the appearance of the Church, fast food or cars, and each of these symbols in the book take on the aspect of forms of escape, endurance or respite; each appear to function as strategies of resistance. A pair of scruffily dressed young men stand in the parking lot of a Kentucky Friend Chicken, the boot of their car gaping and strapped up with rope – a sense of edginess and eager anticipation giving us to believe they may finally be leaving, with whatever meagre possessions they hold – if not permanently, then at least for a week away. They surface in a section of the book much concerned with picturing youth, a section that often counterpoints youth with old age, with the limp seductions of the food service sector, and with a sequence of ever smaller churches. Even in a town the size of Crescent City, we are assured that the Lord’s flock is well attended. Rothman cannot help but meddle with the sanctity of the Church however, posing a sanguine, knowing, beautiful nude woman in a garden not one hundred yards from a roof topped off with a crucifix, her even level gaze — and the gleaming SUV parked behind her — disabusing us of any thoughts of Eden, undermining every impulse to seek proof of transcendence or transfiguration, and stubbornly insisting instead on the simple beauties of specific cases.
Another pairing, this time of waitresses, stand some few inches apart outside a diner, with faces that resemble each other enough for us to imagine them to be a mother and daughter. Each of them wear a small number of rings on either hand, layering a question of generational time onto the frame. The younger of the two stands uncertain, not quizzical but rather uneasy, the direction of her head and the similarity of her clothing leading us ineluctably toward the woman we take to be her mother, and thus to the same flinty question about their future. This doubling is repeated earlier, in a spread in which we see Rothman’s unstinting respect but also his pessimistic expectations in a pair of portraits of women, one young, nude and inside her home, the other of middle age and stood outside her door. In dialogue across the fold the pictures are made to interrogate any optimism we might wish to forecast for youth, and the imminent arrival of old age. As the eye travels from the supple flesh of a nude young New Ager to the ravages of a hard-used body stood in front of the scarred surface of her front door we are given a grim prognosis, but one that manages at one and the same time to speak to the larger figure of women in American society: the depredations of economic short-termism are not the only threats to the outlook for the young women we see preparing for a life of hardship here. Regressive social policy has once again reared its ugly head, and is everywhere seeking to retrench the settlement between a woman’s body and the intrusive rights of the state. The tenor of vulnerability and defiance in these images is analogous to very real social forces presently at work in America.
From his pictures one can readily see that Rothman is interested in the slow firm pulse of life, the way it can resolve itself on the surface of a photographic frame into an expression that reads along a longer, more reflective time scale . This is not a function of working with a large view camera per se, but of working with it in a particular way — of finding a site for his sitters where they are embedded in their lives and most articulate in his story, where the correspondence between thing and self rises more unbidden to the surface whatever the harshness or circumspection of the result. In Redwood Saw the result is bleak, and unflinchingly so. The great American muscle cars are junkers easily outnumbered by Hondas and Toyotas; youth, where we see it, has come adrift, stalled, is sullen or in some essential way vulnerable. While there is great beauty, it is wrought from so much dilapidation, tempered by imagery in which that beauty is made up of resilience, as in the two middle-aged women photographed in front of their doors — as Strand himself did for so many years. These two proffer a hard-nosed realism that admits of no self-pity, and for all that their bodies speak to a likely ‘colourful’ past they are depicted in determinedly prosaic circumstances. All their adventures have led them to this small corner of a crescent, sandwiched between the museum space of national parks and a sea that no longer sustains them.
In her book A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit’s exploration of landscape leads her circuitously into a rumination on her migrant history. In that rumination she notes that her immigrant father belonged to a moment in the 1950s “when America believed in the future like a religion.” That faith has been broken by the slow-speed devastations of the past four decades, and may yet have been comprehensively severed in the past few years. It is difficult to shake the conviction that for many Americans, perhaps a majority of them from small and mid-sized towns, a second migration might be required in order to construct a community of necessity dense and broad enough to reconstitute the provisions for a dignified life and a viable future. Isolated in pockets such as these, the odds seem grim, and the resources of a small community drastically overstretched. If not that, then what alternatives are on offer? Entropy? Faith? The free market?
Whatever respite or consolation we are given in Redwood Saw is in the open views of the sea, the beautiful profusion of life in the trees, the unwavering and honest determination of the inhabitants. Hardship, and a certain expectation that inevitably only individual resources and small communities will rally together against the backbreaking immensity of it all are baked into the brickwork of this book, and stand for quintessentially American values that, in a savage irony, are likely the root cause of many of the particular afflictions we see in Redwood Saw. America is a country that is vast both where it is most populous and where it is most empty and unending, and in the arc that stretches from the cascading boughs and redwood giants to the super-wide horizon of the sea, Crescent City seems small, but tightly packed together against that immensity. One might reasonably expect despondency over so many decades of decline to harden into a rigid involuted hostility, and in this small city Rothman does encounter and describe some circumspection and resistance, but the overarching note that binds these photographs together is one of a unity that encompasses his subjects and the esoteric beauties of this place in a stubborn act of persistence. A persistence leavened by the inextinguishable but very faint possibility of hope, murmuring in the earth.