For many aesthetes of the twentieth century, the West signaled an untapped, even uncultured terrain, providing fodder for the genre of landscape to flourish. And yet even earlier, in distinct contrast, the dawn of landscape as a genre and cultural medium reflected the dawn of property relations and early capitalism. According to theorists, such as W. J. T. Mitchell, the landscape imaginary’s production of edenic terrain obscured the realities of labor relations, naturalizing, all the while, phenomena such as manifest destiny, deterritorialization of indigenous peoples, and social, racial and class divisions.
The course of landscape, as a genre and cultural medium, is currently changing. Perhaps that is because the face of land is also radically changing. Given rising environmental and geopolitical concerns, current artists and writers around the globe, as well as scientists, geographers and nongovernmental activists have renewed their interest in issues of land and land use, taking stands on subjects ranging from nuclear pollution to global warming. These new modes of engagement with land reject universalizing claims to beauty, reflecting in their wake contemporary concerns surrounding degradation, contamination and sprawl.
-Alicia Inez Guzmán, “Degrees of Visibility: Mischka Henner’s Views From Above,” View