Petrochemical America

Photographs by Richard Misrach Ecological Atlas by Kate Orff

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Regular Price: $39.95

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11 4/5 x 9 1/4 inches 240 pages, 150 four-color images Paperback 978-1-59711-277-2 Designed by Bob Aufuldish, Aufuldish & Warinner

In fall 2012, the hardcover edition of this book was released to critical acclaim and received several awards, including the 2013 American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award for its innovative collaborative approach and design. Now available in a smaller, more affordable paperback edition, Petrochemical America features Richard Misrach’s haunting photographic record of Louisiana’s Chemical Corridor, accompanied by landscape architect Kate Orff’s Ecological Atlas—a series of “speculative drawings” developed through research and mapping of data from the region. Their joint effort depicts and unpacks the complex cultural,physical, and economic ecologies along 150 miles of the Mississippi River, from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, an area of intense chemical production that first garnered public attention as “Cancer Alley” when unusual occurrences of cancer were discovered in the region. This collaboration has resulted in an unprecedented, multilayered document presenting a unique narrative of visual information.


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, 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 Associate 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 New York’s Museum of Modern Art, 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.

“It is a book to be revisited often as it offers more visually and intellectually with each reading. ” — Melanie McWhorter, photo-eye

Louisiana’s Secret Chemical Histories Illustrated,” Discover Magazine, Visual Science Blog, Rebecca Horne, October 26, 2012

"We Deserve It: Through the Lens of Petrochemical America," Jessica Bridger, uncube magazine.

"Fascinating Infographics And Gorgeous Photos Document Our Deadly Chemical Industry," Emily Badger, Fast Company.

"Modern Art Notes, Best Books of 2012," Tyler Green, Artinfo

"Best Books of 2012," Jared Green, The Dirt.

"Best Books of 2012," Jack Crager and Lindsay Comstock,
American Photo.

“Oil and Nature: A Landscape Reconfigured,” Emma Brice, The New York Times Green Blog

“Petrochemical America is magisterial in its ambition to span aesthetics and cognition, environmentalist ethics and pragmatic practices.” Suzaan Boettger, “Oil on Paper,” The Brooklyn Rail

Design Observer/AIGA's 2012 50 Books/50 Covers Winner

2013 American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award Winner