Superfund365: Photography Series

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Quanta Resources Superfund, Bergen County, NJ

In 2007 Brooke Singer produced an online data visualization site, Superfund365 (www.superfund365.org), exhibited at Eyebeam in 2008 as part of the Feedback exhibition.  The project and web site highlighted a different Superfund site or the worst contaminated sites as designated by the EPA each day for a year. Currently she is working on a photography and book project drawing from that large online archive and her experiences visiting communities across the nation affected by Superfund. She is choosing which sites to photograph with her large format camera for a variety of reasons: the site has a fascinating history, a site’s stakeholders are in contention over its future use, a site’s history is exemplary of how places become contaminated or a site appears anything but toxic. Sometimes an eloquent user contribution to the online archive compels a visit. Many of her photographs capture the extreme ordinariness of the locations (they are everywhere). Some of the places are rendered invisible through their neglect. Others have all but erased their Superfund status through new uses over time.

The project is as an alternative history to the United States. It traces the development and confluence of industry, economy, land use, ecology and environmental health over time.

When Brooke began working on Superfund issues, there were no sites within New York City. In 2010, two sites in Brooklyn, Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek, were designated Superfund. For this reason this story is particularly important for New Yorkers.

Project Created: 
December 2010