Photographed over a ten-year period, Dog Houses is a collection of 30 forlorn and often humorous color images of canine shelters found throughout the Southern California desert landscape. American photographer Mark Ruwedel (b. 1954), known for his majestic "Westward" series of residual landforms created by expanding railroad lines across the nineteenth-century American West, turns his discerning eye to the last western frontier—the American desert. Dog Houses, part of Ruwedel's larger "Desert House" series, takes readers to a place where signs of human activity in the landscape are much more recent and revealing. Like their human counterparts, the doghouses in these photographs constitute an inventory of an iconic yet surprisingly flexible form. Often made from discarded material left over from the construction of human houses, the funny and sometimes haunting structures evoke the asymmetrical yet reciprocal relationship between owner and animal.
Published by Steidl/Scotiabank. Text by Grant Arnold. Interview by Paul Roth, Gaëlle Morel.
Over the past three decades, Mark Ruwedel (born 1954) has examined the intersections of representation, cultural memory and shifting perceptions of space. His work is an epic account of North American civilization, extending from topologies of urban architecture to large-scale projects such as The Ice Age and Westward the Course of Empire. Ruwedel represents landscape as a site where radically different scales of time intertwine. Picturing the earth as an enormous historical archive, he describes his work as "an inquiry into the histories, cultural and natural, of places that reveal the land as both a field of human endeavor and an agent of historical processes." Ruwedel spotlights traces of human activity—whether an ancient footpath in Death Valley or a rotting wooden trestle abandoned after the failure of the Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern Railroad—in relation to geographic and geological upheavals that have shaped the earth's surface.