Shed on Passive Sands, Archival Pigment Prints, 24’x32″, 2019
I look to the white garden of the dunes.
The vast shadow-suckled sand.
Where the colors flash and never issue
But flow through hidden veinage;
I am naked to the sun.
I let the sun print on me as on the dunes.
With great passion of surrender, I have peace.
-Hugo Seeling (Dunite Poet) excerpt from L., published in Wheel of Fire, Round Table Book Co, Oceano, 1936
These are the Dunes of the Chumash, a people nearly erased by the Spanish Missionaries; the Dunes of Cecil B. DeMille’s ancient Egyptian Ten Commandments movie set; the Dunes of the Dunites, the artists, poets, nudists, and mystics living off the grid in the depression era; the Dunes of Edward Weston and Ansel Adams’ sensual perfection; and the Dunes of the current day Dunites: the ATV riders who tear through the endangered plant species and grind the sand into fine airborne particulates.
Included in this body of work are images of the Dunes landscape, inside and outside of the riding area, surviving artifacts of the Chumash – now housed in the museum of the Mission that almost expunged their culture – and portraits of the current Dunites (the ATV riders and other denizens of the landscape).
Today this site has become a political and environmental battleground between the multi-million dollar ATV industry in the Dunes and residents in the adjacent communities whose health has been compromised from the dust the ATVs create. This battle is a representative microcosm of what is happening all over the United States – the clashing of environmental conservation and public health with economic interest. The project also considers the impact the social landscape has on a unique physical landscape and its indigenous people.
Through historical research and a desire to unearth the unseen – histories often manipulated, forgotten or intentionally buried – this project aims to pull up a history from beneath the barren surface to populate the Dune site with a more profound sense of place and meaning.