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photo-eye Book Reviews: Fertile Geometry

Fertile Geometry. Photographs by David Pollock.
Published by Punto Marte, 2011.
Fertile Geometry
Reviewed by Judy Natal

Fertile Geometry
Photographs by David Pollock. Edited and designed by Urbanautica. Introductions by David Pollock, Andrea Filippin and David R. Montgomery.
Punto Marte, 2011. Hardbound. 64 pp., 30 color illustrations, 11x10-3/4".

David Pollock, by his own admission, has been staring down at dirt for quite some time. In his recent photographic book Fertile Geometry, he is an expert at it while making quiet, contemplative, large format, color landscape photographs that invite the viewer to join him up to ankles in mud, while considering the state of the earth, our imprint on it, and our lack of generosity toward it.

For two years, Pollock photographed in the farmlands of Sasnich Peninsula on Vancouver Island, positioning the subject of farming as both a romantic relationship between man and nature, and as an inescapable interaction with the natural world. The photographs speak of our use of the land, and the title is a play on the idea that nature is non-linear and human beings are decidedly geometric, measureable, and straight edged. The photographs depict the many ways we draw lines in the earth, creating demarcations that separate us from nature. Plow lines and plantings, gates and manmade canals, the ever present rows of telephone poles and wires, and plots of land cordoned off limits by tape and fences, define the insistent hand of man that is everywhere upon the earth.

Fertile Geometry, by David Pollock. Published by Punto Marte, 2011.
Fertile Geometry, by David Pollock. Published by Punto Marte, 2011.
In Pollock's quiet, well composed, color photographs, however, nature always seems to have the last word, with ameba-shaped puddles and unruly shrubs and trees, plants that escape the boundaries defined by our machines. Nature defies us at every turn, though with a quiet stealth that is omnipresent, overriding the ordered world we like to think we live in.

Fertile Geometry, by David Pollock. Published by Punto Marte, 2011.
Fertile Geometry, by David Pollock. Published by Punto Marte, 2011.
Farms and houses line the edges of the photographs, becoming yet another kind of containment for the dirt, soil, grass, crops, water, clouds, sky. The cover photograph is repeated as the last image of the book and perhaps sums up the message of Pollack's photographs best. The image depicts deep gouges of huge tire tracks that abruptly begin in the foreground and proceed toward the deep space of the horizon that is obscured in fog. The photograph becomes the metaphor by which to read the rest of the images, asking the viewer to consider our land use, where are we going, what is the destination, and most importantly, what is the hurry. No inch of land is left untouched.—JUDY NATAL

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JUDY NATAL is a Chicago artist and author of EarthWords, and Neon Boneyard Las Vegas A-Z. Her photographs have been exhibited internationally and are in the permanent public collections of the the Museum of Contemporary Art, California Museum of Photography, Center for Creative Photography, among others. She has received numerous grants and fellowships including a Fulbright Travel Grant, Illinois Arts Council Photography Fellowships, Polaroid Grants and New York Foundation for the Arts Photography Fellowships. Natal has also been awarded numerous artist residencies nationally and internationally, most recently in Iceland and the Biosphere 2 for her current work Future Perfect. Her work can be seen at her website