Earth Week: Ira Wagner: Houseraising
The bodies of work that I will be sharing during Earth Week are linked by this thematic lens: making the often-invisible nature of the global climate and the ecological crisis more visible using conceptual, lens-based art techniques. Each body of work speaks to a different aspect of the climate and ecological crisis: loss of place; waste; sea level rise, plastic pollution, industrial meat production, desertification, and fire. These bodies of work seek to uncover the hidden interdependence of both social and natural systems and challenge us to re-examine our relationships with each other and this planet.
Ira Wagner began studying photography in 2008, after working on Wall Street for more than 25 years. With an interest in urban history and design, he has focused on photographing the urban landscape. His projects primarily focus on what can be revealed in careful observation of residential architecture. He received his MFA from the Hartford Art School in 2013 and is currently the Executive Director of the Montclair Art Museum.
Follow Ira Wagner on Instagram: @iwagner100
Houseraising asks, “What would you do to save your home in an environmentally threatened location?” A growing problem worldwide, this project looks at the raising of houses along the Jersey Shore in response to the calamitous damage of Hurricane Sandy. These images were taken between 2014 and 2016, three to five years after the storm.
The New Jersey Shore, “where Americans learned to love the beach,” reflects a complex environment where man stakes a fragile claim on narrow barrier islands and low-lying coastal areas. Seeking access to the sun, sand, water and salt air, people have built summer and permanent homes ranging from modest bungalows to mansions within yards of the sea, with little protection from rising tides and storms.
What is it about this place that spurs the herculean efforts to tame it at great cost and effort? Do we believe that our efforts will actually survive the threat of the ocean outside the door? Despite the near certainty of rising seas, warming temperatures and stronger storms, man continues to stake a risky claim on the shore, even as it appears a fool’s errand. -Ira Wagner
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