Mitch Epstein – Amos Coal Power Plant, Raymond City, West Virginia, 2004
American Power by Mitch Epstein
Photographer Mitch Epstein has taken part of his time to bring light into the social and moral fabric of the United States. One of the works that has earned him a lot of praise is his American Power project. In American Power Mitch travels through America to bring images of how America is being powered. He was inspired by the evacuation of an environmentally contaminated town in Ohio between 2003 and 2008 which messed up lives of the former inhabitants of the city.
What Mitch Epstein discovered during his trips
With his camera, he documents most of the largest energy ‘hot spots.’ These were areas where the wind, solar, hydroelectric, nuclear, and fossil fuel are used to produce power. He was surprised to find more contamination. He faced a lot of challenges on the way, starting with homeland security obstacles to gain access to these areas, hardened corporate bureaucracy and much more. He did not give up and finally brought light to the struggles, the challenges, and the success that comes with the power.
Residents paid to never return
In the case of the Ohio town, residents were paid a lump sum to never return to their homeland. They were also to never complain in the media or go to court if the contamination made them sick. Surprisingly, many other areas had similar instances. Much of the relationship between the communities around the power stations and the power station was sad.
The police tried to stop Epstein
In his book, Mitch concludes that the corporate law seems to supersede the constitutional law. In fact, at some point, an FBI agent told him he would have already been shot were he a Muslim. Police on many occasions prevented or tried to damage the images he had taken. He also took notice of exploitation and siphoning of water resources to feed lavish golf courses, casinos, and hotels, especially in Las Vegas, such that there was not enough water for everyone else.
The images show different struggles
He took the images in surprisingly great detail. He showed the struggles of the people with life around the power plants, the agony from contamination, and the connection between power production and politics. The widescreen scope prints also show the brutal force of the forces of nature such as Hurricane Katrina. One of the images, called Biloxi, Mississippi, 2005, shows a home totally damaged by the hurricane and a couple praying by the side, under a tree where the little of the dirty clothes that were left are hung.
Mitch Epstein American Power book is something everyone should look at to understand the intrigues of powering America.
‘American Power’ photos
Mitch Epstein – Amos Coal Power Plant III, West Virginia, 2007
Mitch Epstein – Snyder, Texas, 2005
Mitch Epstein – Poca High School and Amos Coal Power Plant, West Virginia, 2004
Mitch Epstein – Omaha, Nebraska, 2008
Mitch Epstein – Ocean Warwick Oil Platform, Dauphin Island, Alabama, 2005
Mitch Epstein – New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana II, 2005
Mitch Epstein – Martha Murphy and Charlie Biggs, Pass Christian, Mississippi, 2005
Mitch Epstein – Las Vegas, Nevada, 2007
Mitch Epstein – Kern River Oil Field, Oildale, California, 2007
Mitch Epstein – Iowa 80 Truckstop, Walcott, Iowa, 2008
Mitch Epstein – Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, Nevada/Arizona, 2007
Mitch Epstein – Chevron Oil Refinery, Point Richmond, California, 2005
Mitch Epstein – Gillette, Wyoming, 2008
Mitch Epstein – Gavin Coal Power Plant, Cheshire, Ohio, 2003
Mitch Epstein – Chalmette Oil Refinery, New Orleans Louisiana II, 2007
Mitch Epstein – Century Wind Project, Blairsburg, Iowa, 2008
Mitch Epstein – BP Carson Refinery, California, 2007
Mitch Epstein – Biloxi, Mississippi, 2005
All images by Mitch Epstein/mitchepstein.net unless otherwise noted.
Mitch Epstein about ‘American Power’ in 2013
Mitch Epstein about ‘American Power’ in 2011
Book preview of ‘American Power’