I made these pictures on a trip to document a protest against mountaintop removal mining led by Coal River Mountain Watch, near Whitesville, WV, in March, 2009.
I am not an impartial observer to these events or to the impacts of mountaintop removal mining. However, I am not an activist – no matter that I feel strongly about the situation. I am a photographer and even in this case, my primary interest is photography. I am trying to work out what photographic form is appropriate for such polarized content, and whether it is possible (or useful) to respond as an artist there – to try to work beyond polemics toward the universal.
I have a feeling that the pictures need to be uninflected and straight-forward, and that I must trust that what is within the frame of the camera, at my eye is, simply, enough.
Robert Adams said to me once, “the best pictures contain contradictory but truthful things.” I believe that art can provide resolution, as in the resolution of form and content. The result is a kind of beauty, a quantity of hope. Looking at the pictures now, I realize that they are an expression of my faith as an artist in the power of form to resolve conflict.