Watershed explores the increasingly fraught relationship between humankind and the environment, giving photographic aid to a concern that has reached global significance in recent years. Since the 1970s, landscape photographers have embraced this new relationship with the natural world, marking a firm split from the pristine worldview touted by midcentury landscape photographers like Ansel Adams. Displaying works that evidence the undeniable human impact on the earth, these photographers reveal the landscape as an activated space—one that is imprinted by mankind and marked by social performance.
Uniting many works from Telfair’s permanent collection, this exhibition features approximately 40 works by 25 artists. This photographic survey is divided into several sections that explore trends in landscape photography since the 1970s: Objective, Atmosphere, Exposure, and Narrative.
“Objective” features works that present an indifferent aesthetic, achieved by straightforward depictions of America’s changing landscape pockmarked by industry and residential development. “Atmosphere” maintains the legacy of Ansel Adams through the presentation of the landscape as an overwhelming entity, albeit irreversibly affected by man’s presence. “Exposure” groups together artists who manipulate their photographic processes to create landscapes influenced by outside forces such as time and history. Finally, “Narrative” sets landscape as a stage for social interactions, often constructed to be actively interpreted by the viewer.