Publication date: 1992
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Photographs from the Water in the West Project
is a photographic response to the growing crisis of water scarcity, which exists because our culture thinks of water as a commodity, or an abstract legal right, rather than the most basic physical source of life.
The Water in the West Project began as a collaborative effort designed to present an artistic response to water as a social issue. Photography historian Ellen Manchester and the photographersMark Klett, Terry Evans, Laurie Brown, Peter Goin, Robert Dawson, Martin Stupich, Gregory Conniff, and Wanda Hammerbeckaddress the question: How can photography contribute to the urgent public debate over water use and allocation?
Project members prepared an exhibition of their work, defining it as a laboratory and emphasizing the process of working through ideas. This collection documents the evolution of the Water in the West Project from its inception as a group collaboration to the foundation of an archive.
"This extremely handsome volume combines Ellen Manchester's informative and lucid text, which considers the photographic history of the American West and the inspiration for the Water in the West Project, with striking photographs . . . This collection certainly represents an outstanding debut, and one hopes that more will follow."
J. Gerard Dollar, ISLE
"The photos cover the great irony which lies, literally, at the root of the Southwestern city: we live as though water were plentiful in a land where it is scarce. The historical photos blend nicely toward the contemporary ones, effectively showing how the illusion began and how it has been cultivated through the century."
David Bajo, author of Panopticon