Fire as omen and elemental force, as metaphor and searing personal experience—these are the subjects Douglas McCulloh explores in Facing Fire: Art, Wildfire, and the End of Nature in the New West.
California’s diverse ecologies are fire-prone, fire-adapted, even fire-dependent. In the past two decades, however, West Coast wildfires have exploded in scale and severity. There is a powerful consensus that we have entered a new era—nature unbalanced, the end of the stable world. Douglas McCulloh has assembled the work of 16 artists who bring us incendiary images from active fire lines and psychic burn zones.
Together the 16 artists face fire, sift its aftermath, struggle with its implications. Throughout is the uneasy sense that wildfire is a stand-in, a site of displacement for more immaterial fears, for the amorphous anxieties of the age.
This book is published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name held at UCR ARTS: California Museum of Photography February 22–August 9, 2020.
Douglas McCulloh is a photographer, writer, and curator based in Southern California. His work has shown internationally in more than 250 exhibitions including Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing; Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne; Musée Nicéphore Niépce, France; La Triennale di Milano, Italy; Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City; Instituto de Cultura, Barcelona; Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles; Southeast Museum of Photography, Florida; Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; and The Cooper Union School of Art, New York. He has authored seven books including The Great Picture: Making the World’s Largest Photograph (Hudson Hills Press, New York), part of the Legacy Project Collaborative. The most noted of his curatorial projects is Sight Unseen: International Photography by Blind Artists, the first major survey of photography by blind artists, which has traveled to fifteen museums in five countries.