Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman (USA)
Surveying the Industrial Landscape
As Midwesterners, we saw the landscape transformed as the family farm gave way to agricultural industry. This was not exclusive to the heartland, as Big Ag and food processing facilities eventually spread across the country. In earlier work, we photographed the American West,observing how human interventions altered the land in accord with ideas of progress and new trends in consumption. In Processed Views: Surveying the Industrial Landscape, we revisit the landscape, this time at the seductive and alarming intersection of nature and food technology.
We came to Processed Views from a previous project about the nurturing aspect of food. In those photographs, we traced the emotional and physical energy that flows through the intimate act of preparing and sharing food. The flip side of mealtime in America, however, is the complex, impersonal system of industrial agriculture, food processing, and marketing. As our country moves further away from traditional sources of food, we enter uncharted territory with its myriad unintended consequences for the environment and for our health.
Throughout our collaboration, we have turned to history as a source of inspiration. We reference here the work of Carleton Watkins (1829-1916), whose iconic photographs honored nature and documented development on the frontier. His images were made at a critical time in the ongoing oppositional relationship between American industrial development and conservation. We are at another such historical moment today.
Processed Views presents a provocative encounter with the average American diet. We ask ourselves and our viewers to reevaluate this supposed utopia. Have we oversold our technological ability to bend the forces of nature, whether to fulfill fantasies of a fun food diet or to meet heroic expectations of feeding the world? We hope this work serves as a cautionary tale, where we can extract lessons from the past and pause to consider the consequences of our choices.
Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman
Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman, from Chicago and Milwaukee,respectively, collaborate on photographic projects that address the confluence of history, myth, and popular culture. Their collaboration began while they were students at the IIT Institute of Design,Chicago, and has continued for over three decades.
Their recent project, Processed Views: Surveying the Industrial Landscape, was published online in 2014 by CNN, BBC, and The Washington Post, and it was reposted subsequently on blogs worldwide. The series was a finalist in the LensCulture Earth Awards 2015 and included in the outdoor installation THE FENCE 2015, in Brooklyn, Boston, Atlanta, and Houston. Numerous exhibitions, magazines, and publications have featured photographs from the project, which encourages a dialogue about health, the environment, and food justice.
With the support of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, the artists are now working on a project about the urgent lack of child care in America.
Ciurej and Lochman have exhibited work in the United States and internationally. Their photographs are in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; Milwaukee Art Museum; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Their artists’ books are in special collections at the Yale Center for British Art, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University; Golda Meir Library, University of Wisconsin– Milwaukee; and the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.