After the Fire
After the Fire
'After the Fire' series was made following the devastation of the wild fires in northern California in September 2015. I came to the community on Cobb Mountain, Lake County, at this particular moment of trauma to make work as a visceral response both to a landscape I know and love and to friends who live here. This body of work also reflects a much wider narrative revealing itself right now; what it means to be part of the Anthropocene generation.
The influence of human behaviour on the earth's atmosphere in recent centuries is so significant that many believe it constitutes a new geological epoch as distinct from the Holocene. Our negative impact will remain a major geological force, perhaps for millions of years to come. With the growing evidence of the planet heating and our climate becoming hostile and unpredictable, a sense of living in two or more temporal scales simultaneously is emerging; a kind of 'out of joint-ness' provoked by an Anthropocene awareness.
My work speaks of this 'out of joint-ness' and a sense of psychic or existential distress caused by extreme environmental changes both on a personal and global level. These fires, coming after five years of extreme drought in California, left the land savagely altered. The ensuing loss of solace and sense of self in relation to the land can create an emotional state proposed by environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht as 'solastagia'; a kind of home-sickness felt when still at home.
I was instinctually drawn to Cobb Mountain for this intense time, just weeks after the wild fires had swept through 70,000 acres of forest and destroyed over 1200 homes. 'After the Fire' is my personal response to the environmental and human distress in the aftermath of such loss. It does not document my own history, land or home, yet it expresses my inner desire to bear witness to these conditions and feelings of 'solastagia' and what it means to be part of the Anthropocene generation.