Ruwedel has spent many years photographing the North American landscape. The works in this display span 1995–2012 and include images of abandoned railways, nuclear testing sites and empty desert homes.
Each series explores how past events have been inscribed onto the earth’s surface, reflecting the artist’s belief that ‘at this point in history, pure nature is no longer a viable subject.’ He explains: ‘I have come to think of the land as being an enormous historical archive. I am interested in revealing the narratives contained within the landscape, especially those places where the land reveals itself as being both an agent of change and a field of human endeavour.’
Ruwedel merges documentary and conceptual methods of imagemaking. He repeatedly photographs the same subject or type of subject, an approach that relates to conceptual art practices of the 1960s and 1970s. He is also influenced by land artists who created large-scale outdoor artworks in the late 1960s using materials such as earth and rock.
The history of landscape photography is another important influence: Ruwedel uses old-fashioned photographic papers and traditional darkroom chemistry, and often includes handwritten descriptive titles beneath his photographs. His interest in the craft of photographic printing and the photograph as object is evident in the framed prints as well as in the hand-made artist’s books which are a central part of his practice.
Curated by Sarah Allen and Simon Baker