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*A haunting memorial in 'Library of Dust'

January 3, 2009 |  7:00 am

Dust Photographer David Maisel is known for a career chronicling the tensions between nature and culture in large-scaled photographs of environmentally impacted landscapes. His weirdly beautiful and troubling projects have included "Black Maps," "Terminal Mirage," "The Lake Project," "The Mining Project," "Asylum" and "Oblivion" (which include overhead shots of L.A.'s freeway interchanges). Because many of these sites are hard to reach, they are frequently shot from the air. Educated at  Princeton and Cal Arts, he was a Scholar in Residence at the Getty Research Institute and in the Bay Area. *CORRECTION: Maisel studied at California College of the Arts, not Cal Art.

His most recent project, "Library of Dust" is something of a departure and is elucidated by Leah Ollman in Sunday's Arts & Books section.

The images, she writes, "trace the artist’s fascination with secrets, transformation and loss, his confrontation with the sublime and his unexpected political advocacy."

"The first photograph in his new book presents a view into a storeroom that clearly doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic. An old wooden desk with no chair is parked in the corner. Bits of debris have gathered on the stained linoleum floor. The walls are what give this room, and Maisel’s book, its name: 'Library of Dust.'

"Shelves packed with corroded copper cans stretch from floor to ceiling, like the back room of a post-apocalyptic grocery store. The room is actually a warehouse of sorts. It’s part of an abandoned ward at the Oregon State Hospital, and the canisters contain the unclaimed cremated remains of former psychiatric patients there."

Image from "Library of Dust."  Credit: David Maisel / Chronicle Books