Mitch Epstein, ‘Gavin Coal Power Plant, Cheshire, Ohio’ 2003
Mitch Epstein, Gavin Coal Power Plant, Cheshire, Ohio 2003 . Lent by the American Fund for the Tate Gallery, courtesy of the North American Acquisitions Committee 2011 . © Mitch Epstein/Black River Productions, Ltd.

Room 1 in Artist and Society

Mitch Epstein and Marwan Rechmaoui

1/3
Art in Mitch Epstein and Marwan Rechmaoui

Monument for the Living

© Marwan Rechmaoui

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Marwan Rechmaoui
Monument for the Living
2001–8

This sculpture is a scale model of the Burj El Murr building in Beirut, Lebanon. The tower was owned by members of the el-Murr family, a prominent political clan. Construction began in 1974 but it was left unfinished after the outbreak of civil war. Originally an office block, it was only ever used as a sniper outpost. The tower is too tall to knock down and too dense to implode, and so continues to dominate the skyline. It is now seen as a memorial to the internal conflict that has never really been resolved.

Gallery label, October 2016

Biloxi, Mississippi 2005

© Mitch Epstein/Black River Productions, Ltd.

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Mitch Epstein
Biloxi, Mississippi 2005
2005

‘With American Power I am trying to find and convey truth about how we Americans live, what we want, and what it costs to get it’, Epstein wrote. ‘These pictures question the human conquest of nature at any cost.’ Though he started by photographing energy production sites and their surroundings, he also began to include other kinds of images of power. This photograph was taken six weeks after the impact of Hurricane Katrina. The 2005 hurricane caused devastating floods and significant loss of life, particularly in New Orleans.

Gallery label, August 2019

Gavin Coal Power Plant, Cheshire, Ohio

© Mitch Epstein/Black River Productions, Ltd.

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Mitch Epstein
Gavin Coal Power Plant, Cheshire, Ohio
2003

Epstein has worked with colour photography since the 1970s, when this medium was rarely used in fine art. The American Power series began in 2003, after a newspaper asked him to photograph the town of Cheshire, Ohio. The American Electric Power Company decided to pay townspeople to leave so that it could expand its power plant. Some residents refused to move, so Epstein photographed the power station and their homes. The commission led Epstein to carry out a wider project between 2003 and 2008.

Gallery label, August 2019

Art in this room

Monument for the Living
Marwan Rechmaoui Monument for the Living 2001–8
Biloxi, Mississippi 2005
Mitch Epstein Biloxi, Mississippi 2005 2005
Gavin Coal Power Plant, Cheshire, Ohio
Mitch Epstein Gavin Coal Power Plant, Cheshire, Ohio 2003