Endorsements for The New Explorers
The New Explorers provides a novel and revelatory vantage from which to reconsider our relationship to landscape, exploration, and art. It’s not only an engaging portrait of a fascinating group of female artists/explorers, but one of the most original books I’ve read in years. This iconoclastic tour is sure to find as eager an audience among adventurers as art historians.
–Martin Berger, Acting Dean of the Arts Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture, University of California, Santa Cruz, author, Sight Unseen: Whiteness and American Visual Culture and Seeing through Race: A Reinterpretation of Civil Rights Photography
There are many memorable moments in The New Explorers, Kris Timken’s exhilarating book, but the one that most struck me was the spectacle of Sarah Kanouse being accosted by a Fish and Wildlife Services officer — and later questioned by the FBI — for photographing “in the wrong direction.” The episode occurred at Crab Orchard, a National Wildlife Refuge in southern Illinois created on the site of a World War II era munitions plant. The officer’s question — and the question that animates this book — was why a photographer would train her camera at derelict buildings rather than the waterfowl plying the nearby lake.
Like the artist explorers examined in her book — Marie Lorenz ferrying passengers around New York in a plywood rowboat, Alison Davies traversing desolate landscapes in a hazmat suit, Jamie Kruse using her own body to measure the layers of earth vaporized in a Nevada nuclear test — Timken seeks to train our eyes differently. Writing in an engaging first-person voice, gently but insistently inquisitive, she invites us to look closely at places that are rarely represented artistically, places that we rarely trouble to see at all. In the process, she challenges not only the prevailing dualisms of landscape art but also our understanding of landscape itself, highlighting the “constructedness” (in both ideological and physical senses) of spaces we too often imagine as natural or self-evident. This is a wonderfully provocative book.
–James T. Campbell, Edgar E. Robinson Professor in United States History, Stanford University, author, Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005.
Here is landscape photography as portraiture, landscape art as being and doing and finding out. Here is environmental history as art. These new ways of looking at landscape and our relationship with it make me itch to get outside with my camera and notebook and do some creative exploring myself. Nature is not a static, sacrosanct, untouchable thing. These projects show that nature is fundamentally a living relationship between humans, other species, and the places they share—and that that relationship, in all its complexity and strangeness, is deeply beautiful. The projects Timken presents teach us the tenderness of the iceberg, the fairy tale power of the urban wildlife encounter and the wholly new nature of New York from the vantage point of the rowboat.
–Emma Marris, author of Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World.
This book offers a compelling selection of some innovative creative interpreters of the American land. Through their endeavors, these inspired artists help widen the spectrum of perceptual possibilities. They evoke the charisma and courage of the original explorers of the new nation, but probe instead into the world that we made, collectively – a constructed landscape whose complexities and mysteries are as rich and varied as its inhabitants.
–Matthew Coolidge, founder of The Center for Land Use and Interpretation
Now more than ever the primacy of venturing out in the world beckons. Goals of explorers today center less on hunting booty than on what, and how, we learn along the way. With each new discovery in the arts, and sciences, our world becomes more complex, expansive and multilayered. Timken gathers a vital collection of contemporary adventurers who open perceptions from self to culture within our increasingly interconnected global ecosystem. The student, specialist and general audience have much to learn here.
–Chris Taylor, director of Land Arts of the American West at Texas Tech University