Wisconsin, Colorado, Missouri, Oregon — the work of Robert Adams is inextricably tied to the landscapes that it depicts. Grand horizons, breathtaking scenery, fields that stretch all the way to vanishing point… and in their midst: man, dirty and rowdy. In Adams’ oeuvre, the American Midwest becomes the site of a struggle between an Edenic nature and the motorways, shopping centres and nuclear plants that threaten to devour it. Urbanisation and all its attendant problems form the central theme; we witness eerie suburbs, shadowy figures in the streets, factories spewing smoke into the atmosphere. Adams captures this process with a gaze that’s cold, objective, almost entomological, certainly devoid of emotional charge.
‘L’Endroit où nous vivons’ brings together over 250 photos (on loan from the Yale University Art Gallery), as well as some of the photographer’s writings, for a comprehensive overview of his 40-year career. This period has seen the Midwest undergo a facelift, its wild badlands having ceded a lot of ground to the encroaching cities. It’s a loss that this exhibition will make you feel.