With Domesticated Land Susan Lipper accompanies us through a desolate territory in which humanity and civilization seem to have given way to dust. Located somewhere in the Californian desert the landscape portrayed by Lipper is quiet and parched, with a tension that oscillates between the apocalyptic and inertia. It offers the observer a collection of timeless photographs, in which nothing significant happens or might happen. In the images, everything is still, trapped in a vast blinding light, held in an appropriate silence, suggested between pale grays, without contrasts, without noise. These images are far from the spectacularization of the glossy pages of magazines.
Creating a diversion from typical desert narratives, (from biblical to American narratives) as the topical place of freedom and revelation, Susan Lipper moves in fragments – the bare trunk of a fallen palm tree, a snake, the ruins of a home, a book abandoned in the dust, a military base placed in that immensity almost as if it is the end, like the last outpost in nothing.
The shattered collection of absolutely anonymous scenes presented to us records a socio-political criticality that fits well into that extraordinary story of mapping and description of the territory that is typical of American landscape photography.
Started in 2012 in the California desert Domesticated Land is the mysterious conclusion of a trilogy of books, “Grapevine” (1988-1992) and “trip” (1993-1999), which cross almost thirty years and recently ended in the 2016 after Susan Lipper traveled from the borders of the wooded Appalachians in the east of the United States – along the I-10 motorway – to the so-called wilderness of the West.
Whilst her research is anchored to themes dear to American landscape photography – such as the search for a “real” America and to a topographical approach to the territory – Lipper’s perspective remains both personal and feminine. In her depiction of a land dominated by men, Susan Lipper overlaps with the traditional posture of the documentary in search of a personal perspective, charged with warnings and queries about the future of the United States.
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review by Matteo Cremonesi
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