Over the last 150 years the medium of photography has powerfully depicted and shaped representations of past and present scenes of devastation. Aftermath examines landscape photographs made at the sites of natural or human-made disasters, capturing the results of destructive forces wrought on the land and its inhabitants, including volcano eruptions and floods, massacres and uprisings, and even nuclear explosions. The photographs portray both well-known and untold stories of violence, tragedy, and loss. Each scene is visually striking, yet viewers may be surprised at the elements of beauty and tranquility present in these tragic landscapes. The exhibition includes images of the aftermath of events spanning over 2,000 years of human history—from ancient Pompeii to September 11, 2001. These photographs remind us that disaster is often a collective experience that can tear apart the seams of a culture’s social fabric and impact societies well after an event.
Lead support for Aftermath: Landscapes of Devastation is provided by the Herbert W. and Susan L. Johe Endowment. Additional generous support is provided by the University of Michigan Department of Screen Arts and Cultures and School for Environment and Sustainability.