Artist Statement, Jayne Baum Gallery, New York 1992

Jayne Baum Gallery Exhibition 10/92

The photographs in series are made at locations which have become central to the construction of "American" identity. These are the locations of 19th century events which are significant to the cultural representation, and primary historical narrative, of the "United States." In this exhibition, the sites are the Gettysburg battlefields, battlefields above the Little Big Horn River, and the site of Thoreau's house at Walden Pond.

In each landscape there are individuals photographed at a distance. These are locations that individuals travel to with the desire to connect and understand. While there are sometimes plaques and small monuments at some sites, the essential meaning of this touristic experience is located through the traveler carrying meaning to, and inscribing meaning onto, an essentially blank and generic landscape.

I am not interested in being cynical. In a nation that has been described as one with shallow historical and spiritual roots, I find this desire for meaning and closure compelling. There is something about people driving cars though battlefields in which, among other things, I find the authority of contemporary ritual and a sad kind of beauty.