Mark Klett is an Arizona-based photographer whose work revolves around two concerns: the American landscape and the passage of time. His ravishing photographs of the desert are as likely to include rusted unexploded ordnance as a glittering night sky. Since the 1980s, he has done regular surveys in which he rephotographs places in the American West from the exact vantage points of historical photographs. (Many of these have been published in book form.) Klett understands that even “untouched” nature is not ahistorical.
Klett first worked with the lithographer Joseph Segura in the early 1990s, when both were on the faculty at Arizona State University in Tempe. In 2007 Klett made a small photogravure the size of the four-by-five-inch Polaroid negatives he was then using on location to shoot portraits of the tree-sized Saguaro cacti in the Sonoran Desert. A book published that year reproduced 40 of these cactus photographs, taken over the course of 20 years.1 His original title for the series was “Desert Citizens,” and one cannot help but see these towering spiny figures as hugging couples, enthusiastic choral conductors and God-beseeching preachers. Even the ones with too many arms and tangled body parts suggest modernist elaborations of human beings (the sculptures of Jacques Lipchitz in particular).
- Mark Klett, Saguaros (Santa Fe: Radius Books, 2007).