Elena Dorfman is a lens-based artist who explores tensions between the natural and the artificial, the human and the animal, the real and the fabricated. Throughout her career she has told stories through visual narratives utilizing photographs, film and woven jacquard tapestry. Her current work, Transmutations, features landscape and the temporal investigations that result in the reinterpretation of quotidian vistas through complex processes and materials. She assembles elaborate photographic collages that mimic the workings of human perception to create a unified vista. The resulting images convey physical impossibilities, conflicting perspectives and rearranged geologies.
Her series Empire Falling, 2013, investigated the abandoned and active rock quarries of the American Midwest, specifically Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. Combining images made over the course of several years and numerous locations, this conceptual landscape work presents a contemporary view of an ancient–though evolving–landscape. “These seemingly ordinary sites, whose aggregate is mined until the earth has nothing left to give, have been a constant source of wonder to me. What began as a sociological exploration of the communities that gather at quarries to jump from rocky precipices into water, evolved into a study of these massive pits, often overlooked and unseen. Manipulating and reconstructing the landscape, I reassemble and layer the images emulating the natural process of stratum on stratum.” As globalization and consolidation continue unchecked, these astonishing vistas are transfigured –with landfills, golf courses, and exclusive housing communities–wherein the quarry water element has, ironically, been incorporated into the development as a scenic or recreational point of focus. The images from Empire Falling present the quotidian rock landscape in an unexpected way, such that the viewers’ perception is challenged not only by the imagery itself, but also by their own personal subjective relationships to industry and the evolving earth.