Factory, Ohio River, near Moundsville, WV 2012
year-old burial site, is replaced by the monumental trophy of victory and expansion that is the Suncrest Town Center. Still, the Monongahela remain. Their history is stronger than pavement and steel, and Sherwin intends us to see it despite ourselves. The grassy ridge pulls the viewer into the image, its power begging the viewer to see something hidden, something unequivocally present. A history. A story. At the image’s literal vanishing point, there are rolling hills, and surrounding the parking lot, grasslands infiltrate the new construction. The escalating ridge in Sherwin’s photograph
is an incantation, an ancient chant, a war drum. It is like the American abstract expressionist painter Barnett Newman’s perfect brushstroke: the negative space it creates allows us to see the positive. The ridge, like Newman’s monastic compositions, creates for the viewer a stoic god of color amidst a world of chaos and movement. The ridge is an existential reminder that we are all monuments fading into earth. Only our history remains when we are the defeated people. Michael Sherwin’s Vanishing Points series illustrates that there may, in fact, be no vanishing point. An army may kill a people, historians may attempt to revise or change a people’s
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