Mark Ruwedel LA Fires
Los Angeles enfolds wild terrain in a complex fashion; it is a place where natural history and social history can sometimes be read as inverted images of each other – Mike Davis, Ecology of Fear.
Los Angeles may be the ultimate environment in which to study the dynamics of the nature/culture dialectic, possessing perhaps the largest wild/urban interface of any North American city. These photographs have been selected from my four-part, in-progress epic, Los Angeles: Landscapes of Four Ecologies (after Reyner Banham’s book on the architecture of Los Angeles). Briefly, the four ecologies are:
- Rivers Run Through It
- The Slide Area (the Western edge)
- Hills and Canyons
- Haunted by the Desert (the Eastern edge)
The emphasis is on landscapes where the collision of promise and reality is visible, and where the land and environmental forces act as active determinates in the history of the city.
Fire is a theme that runs through the project as a whole.
The Los Angles area has always burned. Fire is an integral part of the ecology of southern California. In recent years, however, the fires have increased in both frequency and intensity. The La Tuna fire, in 2017, was considered to be the largest in the history of the city. Each year is hotter and drier than the previous one, and the “Fire Season” is extended to encompass much of the year. Climate change, decades of fire suppression, and general human carelessness all contribute to the recurring conflagrations.
I would like for these photographs to function as both document and metaphor. As Robert Adams has said, You want ghosts, and the daily news and prophecy.
About the artist
Born in Pennsylvania, 1954, Mark Ruwedel lives in Long Beach, California. He received his MFA from Concordia University in Montreal in 1983 and taught there from 1984 to 2001; he is currently Professor Emeritus at California State University. He received major grants from the Canada Council for the Arts in 1999 and 2001. In 2014 he was awarded both a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Scotiabank Photography Award and was short-listed for the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize for 2019.
Ruwedel is represented in museums throughout the world, including the J. Paul Getty Museum; Los Angeles County Art Museum; Metropolitan Museum, New York; Yale Art Gallery; National Gallery of Art, Washington; National Gallery of Canada; Fondation A Stichting, Brussels; Maison europeenne de la photographie, Paris; Tate Modern, London; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Ruwedel’s work was the subject of an Artists Room at Tate Modern in 2018.
Publications include Westward the Course of Empire, 2008, and 1212 Palms, 2010 (Yale Art Gallery); Pictures of Hell, 2014 (Ram Pubs); Mark Ruwedel Scotiabank Photography Award, 2015 (Steidl); Message from the Exterior, 2017 (Mack); Dog Houses, 2017 (August Press); Ouarzazate, 2018, Seventy-two Miles Across Los Angeles, 2020 (both Mack), and Palms/Capri, 2020 (Nazraeli Press). In addition, Ruwedel’s work has been reproduced in over 75 books and catalogues.
Recent solo exhibitions include: Large Glass, London, 2020-21; California Historical Society, San Francisco, 2019; Museum of Art and Culture of Marrakech, Morocco, 2018; and Gallery Luisotti, Santa Monica, CA, 2018. Recent group exhibitions include: Biennale fur actuelle Fotographie, Mannheim, Germany, 2020; Getty Museum, 2019; Morgan Library, NY, 2019; The Photographers Gallery, London, 2019; Vancouver Art Gallery, 2018; and the Denver Art Museum, 2018.
Mark Ruwedel’s Archive is being housed at Stanford University’s Special Collections Library. His work is represented by Gallery Luisotti, Santa Monica, CA; Yossi Milo Gallery, New York, Art 45, Montreal, and Large Glass, London.
Sally Mann, Blackwater, 2008-2012
Fabrice Monteiro, The Prophecy, 2013 - 2020
Rinko Kawauchi, Hanabi, 2001
Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Wonder Beirut, 1998-2006
Lisa Oppenheim, Smoke, 2021
Daisuke Yokota, Matter / Burn Out, 2016
Carla Rippey, Immolation, 2009-2019
Christian Marclay, Fire, 2020
Brent Stirton, Burns Capital Of The World, 2013
David Uzochukwu, In The Wake, 2015-2020
Mark Ruwedel, LA Fires, 2017-2020
Mak Remissa, Left 3 Days, 2014