“It’s easy to allow a disaster like this to define a place and our relationship to it,” Owen McCarter explains about his hometown of South Egremont, a small, isolated rural town in Western Massachusetts.
“Photographic representations of the environment tend to use scale to describe a world irrevocably damaged by humanity. I intend to play against these conventions and to show my home as not just a classified waste site but a place in the process of healing.”
Since 1885, Massachusetts has been synonymous with revolutionising electricity and power distribution. William Stanley Jr, an electrical engineer and physicist from the area, created the first practical transformer, setting off a string of events that saw the manufacturing of electrical power and plastics skyrocket in the following decades.
While the economy was thriving, the local environment along the upper Housatonic River began to be contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls [PCBs] as a consequence of production. PCBs – which were eventually banned in 1979 – are indestructible toxic plastics responsible for causing cancer, congenital disabilities, neurological damage, and immune deficiency.