In 1998 Richard MISRACH photographed the River Road in Louisiana, and the industrial corridor that was then called 'Cancer Alley.' People were living side by side with these great industrial behemoths and Richard MISRACH was shocked to see that in the United States. Later he returned to do some sort of intervention that reached out and maybe had some constructive results (like what he attempted in his photo volume 'Bravo 20', which proposes the conversion of a bombing range into a national environmental park), looking for a way of manifesting the larger context of the images—rather than a long text. The photo volume 'Petrochemical America' is the result of a unique collaboration between photographer Richard MISRACH and landscape architect Kate Orff. It brings into focus the industrialized landscape of the Mississippi River Corridor that stretches from Baton Rouge to New Orleans – a place that first garnered attention as 'Cancer Alley' because of unusually high reports of cancer and other diseases in the area.
The volume 'Petrochemical America' by Richard MISRACH reveals traces of the collaborative process and features haunting photographs of the region and Kate Orff’s 'Ecological Atlas', a series of visual narratives, or 'throughlines.' The dialogue between photograph and drawing begins to unpack complex economic and ecological forces that have shaped this landscape, mapping cycles of extraction and transformation from the scale of the neighborhood, to the region, to the globe. Ultimately, this joint enterprise offers an expansion of both disciplines and a richly researched and concretely visualized study of the petrochemical industry and American culture, which has become intricately intertwined with its output." (© Aperture, 2021)