Mitch EPSTEIN has spent five years travelling around the US as an "energy tourist", photographing every kind of power station. This might be regarded as somewhat cranky though pretty harmless, but in the mass paranoia of the post-9/11 Bush era, Epstein's journey became the act of an enemy of the state.
He was regularly stopped, searched, followed, run out of town, shouted at and interrogated by state police and the FBI. Simple pictures of electrical power production in the everyday landscape of middle America became an exploration of political and corporate power, a portrait of the American landscape and people defined by an energy-dependent consumer lifestyle. Epstein photographed coal mines, solar arrays, oilfields, half-empty dams, smokestacks, fuel cells, nuclear plants and pipelines, but also many of the things the most energy-profligate nation on earth does with all that power – such as build Las Vegas and golf courses in the desert, send tanks to Iraq, blow the tops off mountains to find coal, make nuclear bombs and electric chairs.
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