EMPIRE  2012-2015

Lewis deSoto
EMPIRE figures large in the development of four photographic projects from the early 1970‘s (Basho, Triptychs, Empire and Quotidian).  The “Inland Empire,” an enormous area that could be said to exist from the San Bernardino Valley and east into the Palm Springs’ deserts and south to almost San Diego has an enormously variegated history and landscape. 
From snow capped mountains to blistering desert, the Inland Empire forms large in the landscape of experience for the artist.  Also present is the enormous challenge and changes that create a contrast between scrabbling poverty of immigrant groups and the inverse riches of Indian tribes flush with gambling money.  Its social history has been rich with race and cultures that are a polyglot of places the U.S. has touched during its foreign policy history.  Its eco system is a combination of suburbs, industrial areas, waning agriculture and abandoned properties.  Its early 20th century human intervention took place in the realm of a vast architectural empire commanded by citrus, grapes, apples and enormous dairies.  The skeletons of these endeavors poke out of the body of this landscape and haunt everyday existence.  After the deadly pollution from the Kaiser steel plant decimated agricultural life in the area, automobile exhaust laced with hydrocarbons and lead leached into its trees, water, air and people.  This series revisits the land of the artists you and looks at the changes and sublime landscape that encompasses so much of Southern California.  

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