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Book of the Week: A Pick by Rupert Jenkins

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Rupert Jenkins Rupert Jenkins selects Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain by Michael Light as Book of the Week.
Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain.
By Michael Light. Radius Books, 2015.
This week's Book of the Week pick comes from Rupert Jenkins who has selected Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain by Michael Light from Radius Books.

"Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain is the third in a series of Radius books by Michael Light, collectively titled Some Dry Place: An Inhabited West. This latest chapter, the first in color, benefits from a large format 'Janus-faced' design that functions as a hardcover slipcase for two soft-bound books, one for each location. Each photograph is presented as a double page spread, which looks impressive and is conceptually shrewd; as Lucy Lippard observes, given their size — slightly larger than an airplane window — viewing Light’s aerial landscapes is like flying in a plane with him.

Light’s images depict the monumental physical residue of two failed real-estate speculations in Henderson, NV, close to Las Vegas. Two fine essays, one by Lippard and the other by Rebecca Solnit, inform the work. Solnit describes Lake Las Vegas in the context of the 'anywhere but here' mentality that transformed Las Vegas from an architectural celebration of the American West into today’s ersatz icon of 'chameleon post-modernism.' Symbolic of that, Light finds a mirage-like Ponte Vecchio Bridge stranded in the midst of an empty Mediterranean-themed housing development built around an evaporating man-made lake.

Lucy Lippard addresses the 'confounding landscape' presented in Light’s Black Mountain section, in which we see the effects of a quarter billion dollars spent on moving earth and creating steep terraces for houses yet to be built or now sitting abandoned. The environmental catastrophes Light shows us here and elsewhere are deeply shocking and seemingly irreversible. Yet, as in his 2009 Bingham Mine/Garfield Stack book, hope is somehow extracted from them. As Solnit defiantly declares at the end of her essay, 'The earth endures.' So, one hopes, will Light’s aerial quest."—Rupert Jenkins

Purchase Book

Lake Las Vegas/Black MountainBy Michael Light. Radius Books, 2015.
Lake Las Vegas/Black MountainBy Michael Light. Radius Books, 2015.

Rupert Jenkins is director of the Colorado Photographic Arts Center in Denver.

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