In 1980, more than 400,000 toxic waste sites existed across the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency declared 400 of these highly hazardous and in need of immediate attention. In just a few years, the number of these "Superfund" sites more than tripled. Though they constitute a shocking degradation of our landscape, Superfund sites are never seen by most Americans. In the course of one year (1985-86), David T. Hanson (born 1948) traveled to 45 states to make aerial photographs of 67 of them, documenting both US geography and its ravaging by industrial waste in one artistic odyssey. Hanson's Waste Land series, published here in its entirety for the first time, is a master photographer's meditation on the country's most dangerously polluted places. Each work in Waste Land juxtaposes the artist's photograph with a modified topographic map and the EPA's own description of the site's history and hazards.
"[Hanson's] aerial photographs are stunning in their depiction of the horrible transformation of the environment."
– Marcus Baram, Fast Company
"Hanson's photographs bear witness to the most enduring monuments the West will leave to future generations."
– Bette Sharpe, Glendale Daily Planet
"Showcases the shocking, yet captivating photographs [Hanson] captured showing a wide variety of waste lands."
– Regina F. Graham, Daily Mail
"Hanson's camera intensifies the 67 sites, which range from nuclear plants to asbestos mines, by filling the frame with their sprawling shapes, sludges and scattered mechanical structures."
– Elena Saavedra Buckley, High Country News
"Shows industrial damage to the American landscape that may never heal."
– Karim Doumar, The Atlantic: CityLab
"A striking record of how industry has ravaged the landscape."
"[Hanson's] aerial photographs capture the terrible ravages to the earth by hazardous waste that are often hard to perceive from the ground. [...] The aerial views – taken from airplanes in a pre-drone era – contextualize the sites' relationships to the communities and environments around them."
– Allison Meier, Hyperallergic
"A master photographer's meditation on the country's most dangerously polluted places."
– The Eye of Photography