Christine Holtz and Lauren S. Zadikow: 50 Greenspace Dumpsites
For many, myself included, greenspaces and parks are the most practical way to reconcile with nature—to find refuge from hectic, metropolitan area living. They are places of recreation and relaxation where we, along with family and friends, congregate on the weekend. Yet they offer only but a convenient deception of undeveloped, set-apart landscape. We are reminded of this artifice in the photographs of Christine Holtz and Lauren S. Zadikow, who scoured the public greenspaces of Pittsburgh, PA in search of illegal dumpsites. Each image in the series is paired with data that alludes to large quantities of unseen detritus. Despite this information, we are lulled into a sense of denial—that out of sight means out of mind. The images are quiet, familiar, and picturesque. They beckon for us to stay a while. Perhaps this would be possible if we were left in naiveté. This sense of unease is the precise feeling that Holtz and Zadikow wish to create. By informing us of what lies beyond the romanticized frame, we understand that there exists a problem that we cannot ignore, but must combat—if in fact we do wish to stay a while.
Christine Holtz and Lauren S. Zadikow have been photographing together since 2001, when they met on a photography workshop in the desert southwest. In spring 0f 2012 they began working on together to document illegal dumping in the city of Pittsburgh. They partnered with Allegheny CleanWays, a local non-profit that helps to organize neighborhood clean ups and fight illegal dumping. Working with this group has given them access to data that has been integral in developing this project. Spending time with volunteers at dumpsites has taught them how to see the landscape differently, and how to identify these places from their surroundings. Christine Holtz has a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and a MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology. She is currently a Professor of Media Arts at Robert Morris University. Lauren S. Zadikow has a BFA from Rochester Institute of Technology, and a MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She was a PhD Candidate in Media and Communication at European Graduate School. Lauren passed away in December 2016.
50 Greenspace Dumpsites
Illegal dumping in Pittsburgh is widespread; however, it is a problem that many locals don’t even know about. The culture of dumping is boundless, affecting almost every neighborhood and socio-economic area in the city. We contacted Allegheny CleanWays, a local non-profit that organizes neighborhood clean-ups and fights illegal dumping, they granted us access to their statistical and GPS data, which was integral to developing this project.
We delved into the data, mapping known coordinates. Over 300 documented dumpsites, many exist on the sides of steep hills and in the woodsy perimeters of residential neighborhoods. More disturbing, many sites are in proximity to greenspaces used for outdoor recreation. This aspect of the data stood out so much, that we chose to document 50 of these specific locations, including public parks, little league fields, cemeteries and playgrounds.
The photographs appear to be landscapes of public spaces, but when coupled with data about the space as a dumpsite, the multiple layers of information present viewers with a new perception of these places. By creating a bridge between the unsuspecting landscape image and the truth about what happens there, we are attempting to bring a new level of significance to these sites.
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