Empire Falling is artist Elena Dorfman’s most recent series of photographs, conceptual landscape images exploring the abandoned and active rock quarries of the Midwest, in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana Using images made over the course of several years and numerous locations, the work presents a contemporary view of an ancient–though evolving–landscape.
“These seemingly ordinary sites, whose aggregate is mined until the earth has nothing left to give, have been a constant source of wonder to me. What began as a sociological exploration of the communities that gather at quarries to jump from rocky precipices into water, evolved into a study of these massive pits, often overlooked and unseen. Manipulating and reconstructing the landscape, I reassemble and layer the images emulating the natural process of stratum on stratum.” As globalization and consolidation continue unchecked, these astonishing landscapes are transfigured –with landfills, golf courses, and exclusive housing communities–wherein the quarry water element has, ironically, been incorporated into the development as a scenic or recreational point of focus. When a quarry is re-appropriated, a landscape is destroyed. The images from Empire Falling present the quotidian rock landscape in an unexpected way, such that the viewers’ perception is challenged not only by the imagery itself, but also by their own personal subjective relationships to industry and the evolving earth.
Landscape is a recent departure from my practice, which has explored the cultural, social, and sexual practices of marginalized communities. Published works from selected exhibitions include The Pleasure Park, photographic stills and 3-channel video, 2009; Fandomania: Characters & Cosplay (Aperture, 2007); and Still Lovers (Channel Photographics, 2005).