Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Portraits and Voices of the Salton Sea Project

Portraits and Voices of the Salton Sea

Book and Exhibition Project 


Welcome to the Project Blog for the Portraits and Voices of the Salton Sea Book and Prints Project. I am using Kickstarter to raise funds for the project and will be using this blog space in conjunction with Kickstarter and to update/post any news/exciting stories/anything Salton Sea related/images and so forth.

Background Information

The Salton Sea is a place to behold. Its history is strange and hard to explain, there are so many factors that serve to confuse, to beckon, to estrange, to question and it throws up what we typically know to be 'reality' up in the air. It is not a place that one can describe in one sentence.

"Enigmatic and often misunderstood, the Sea has become an important regional and national landscape, where some of the West's most dramatic chapters on critical water and environmental issues may soon be written" (Christopher Landis, In Search of Eldorado: The Salton Sea, 2000)

Since 2008, I have been working on a project that focuses on the environment and the people of the Salton Sea area in California. I moved from London to Southern California (not once - but twice) so that I can be closer to my project. 

The first time I saw the Salton Sea was in 2005 when my friend and me, who were on a roadtrip from Washington DC to San Jose, CA, came out onto HIghway 86 from the Anza-Borrego Desert and drove North towards Joshua Tree. I looked out the window on a blistering Hot August day and saw something blueish shimmering in the distance. A mirage surely. No way a lake. We are in the middle of a desert. Not white enough to be Salt Flats. I didn't know what to make of it. I didn't even believe the map that there was a Sea. Too much sun and heat perhaps. We couldn't stop that day, but that image stayed with me until we returned to DC and I started digging up information on the internet. None of really made sense, a lot of it was outdated, my curiosity was in no way satisfied, so I had to see for myself.

And thus began my journey.

This is California's largest lake located in Southern California in the desert at around 240 feet below sea level, and has a rather bizarre history to it. Lakes have been here throughout the geological history (and this can be seen when walking about in the desert when you come across seashells and old beaches as well as the old shoreline which is visible on the side of the mountains along the sea), its current being came about in 1905-1907 when recent pioneers had built irrigation ditches and canals leading Colorado River waters into the Salton Sink.
In 1905, there was a massive flood, the rushes of water could not be contained and almost two years later, the flow of water was finally halted and a Lake lay glistening under the hot desert Sun of the Colorado Desert. Since then it has gone from being a super popular place for Los Angeles' glitterati and all people rich and famous with boats out here hanging around the exclusive Yacht Clubs to being one of the most impoverished areas in the US. The Sea itself has had more floods, which were in part responsible for the downfall, and since then, in a confusing chain of events is drying up, becoming more and more saline and exposing more and more of the toxins that lay beneath. Agricultural waters from the farmlands in the North and South run into this Lake, and with it the pesticides and chemicals.

This Project is about...

 This project concerns itself with the conservation of the Sea, the complex biodiversity, the restoration project and the people involved in that aspect.
It's not just about the people, though of course, they are the most important, but also about the wildlife and this being one of California's last remaining wetland and part of the Pacific Flyway for migrating birds.
For this project, "Portraits and Voices of the Salton Sea", I felt that it was most appropriate to involve the people that live and work here and thus took to photographing them and speaking to them in order to get an insider's view  of the history, the culture, the eco-systems, and environment.

Project Aim:

- To create discussion and be informative about this area and its history, culture and environment, as it is truly a fascinating place, one of the best stories in all of the world. In my humble opinion. And the people that tell the stories deal with it on a daily basis - whom better to ask?
By publishing a Book of Interviews taken with residents, biologists, conservationists, visitors and putting together exhibition prints for a traveling exhibition. At the moment, I have the opportunity to have an exhibition in the month of October, 2012 at the Pioneer's Museum in Imperial, South of the Salton Sea and an exhibition in Palm Desert Community Gallery at the North end from December 2012 onwards for a couple months with the view of it travelling to other regions.

Thank you for reading!

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