Mitch Epstein’s American Power

Mitch Epstein, Amos Power Plant from the American Power series, 2007

This quiet neighborhood view in Raymond City, West Virginia, opens Mitch Epstein’s book  American Power (2009). Amid a bucolic fall panorama we see a cozy middle-American backyard with a patio, garden, white shed, and nearby houses. But looming in the background, like ghostly apparitions, are the outsized stacks of the Amos Coal Power Plant. Whether the environmental and health hazards are real or implied, the scene is both menacing and unforgettable. Epstein is particularly adept at capturing such richly symbolic perspectives and, as such, his American Power images are among the most incisive and ardently political photographs made in recent years.

This work is included in the ICP summer exhibition A Short History of Photography from the ICP Collection, Honoring Willis E. Hartshorn, Ehrenkranz Director.

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