Petrochemical America Limited-Edition Box SetPhotographs by Richard Misrach & Ecological Atlas by Kate Orff
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The limited-edition box set of Richard Misrach and Kate Orff’s Petrochemical America pairs the award-winning book with a photographic print by Misrach and a drawing by Orff. Misrach’s image of a shopping cart abandoned in the middle of a vast parking lot subtly weaves together themes explored throughout the book. The plastic of the shopping cart is made of petroleum, as is the expanse of asphalt, which is petroleum in a sticky, black, viscous form. The haze enveloping the streetlamps calls to mind the pollutants hanging in the air throughout Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley.” In Orff’s drawing, a modified version of a map of the region, the chemical names of pollutants and the logos of multination corporations cluster around an inky black ribbon signifying both Mississippi River and the contaminated state in which it finds itself.
The cloth folio and box were crafted by John DeMerritt Bookbinding in Emmeryville, California. Each folio encompassing the book is stamped with an ironic reinterpretation of the classic image of evolution, which features increasingly erect species of humans. Here the spectrum of evolution ranges from a giant mammoth to the plastic shopping cart.
Richard Misrach (born in Los Angeles, 1949) has a long-standing personal connection with New Orleans and the surrounding region. Destroy This Memory, his latest published monograph, shows a record of hurricane-inspired graffiti left on houses and cars in New Orleans in the wake of Katrina, which garnered Aperture a nomination for a 2010 Lucie Award for Book Publisher of the Year, and won the award for Best Photobook of the Year 2011 at PhotoEspaña. Another standout success was his 2007 large-format Aperture book On the Beach, a sublime visual meditation on the relationship between humankind and the environment, which is as spectacular as it is unsettling. Earlier, Aperture published Violent Legacies, which addressed, in part, the contamination of the desert due to nuclear testing. Richard Misrach’s other books include Golden Gate, also being released by Aperture in spring 2012, on the occasion of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the iconic bridge.
Kate Orff (born in Maryland, 1971) is an assistant professor at Columbia University and founder of SCAPE, a landscape architecture studio in Manhattan. Her work weaves together sustainable development, design for biodiversity, and community-based change. Orff’s recent exhibition at MoMA, Oyster-tecture, imagined the future of the polluted Gowanus Canal as part of a ground-up community process and an ecologically revitalized New York harbor.