Welcome to Wonder Valley is a photographic triptych created in an eponymous desert area at the geographic, social and economic margins of American life: Wonder Valley, a remote region 150 miles East of Los Angeles in the Mojave Desert.
The Wonder Valley region has been "homesteaded" - settled via a local enabling ordinance - since 1938. Since that time many hundreds of dwellings, mostly shacks and cabins, have been erected across hundreds of sq. km of open desert. The earliest Wonder Valley homes - rustic weekend cabins for jaded Los Angeles leisure-seekers - could be purchased from a catalogue of customisable prefabricated units and erected in three days. The majority of recent homes are more complex and use a distinctly suburban design aesthetic.
A majority of these homes are now abandoned, a consequence of 80 years of fluctuating economic fortunes, an ageing regional population and the deterrent value of a harsh climate, creating a desert landscape dotted with hundreds of unmaintained structures. This failed experiment in settlement is an opportunity for photography to assist us in reconsidering this landscape as a distinctly hybridised entity comprised of two co-existent parts. The first is a pervasive yet retrograde built environment, the second a desert whose vigorous landscape processes are immanent throughout the first, causing its progressive retreat. This hybrid state is nowhere more evident than from a vantage point within an abandoned structure, where windows that once framed a proprietorial view of the surrounding desert now permit its transformative ingress.