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Image of Midway, CF000228

Midway, CF000228

16 3/4 x 20 3/4 in. (42.55 x 52.71 cm)

Chris Jordan (1963 - ) Primary

Object Type: Photograph
Medium and Support: Inkjet print on paper
Credit Line: Gift of the Lipman Family Foundation
Accession Number: 2010.08.11


Indestructible Wonder
, April 18, 2016 - January 29, 2017, Second Floor, Central and North Galleries, San José Museum of Art.

Degrees of Separation: Contemporary Photography from the Permanent Collection, July 22, 2010 - March 13, 2011, New Wing, Second Floor, North Gallery, San José Museum of Art.

SJMA Label Text

Indestructible Wonder (2016-2017)

Preoccupied with worldwide consumption of manufactured consumer goods, Chris Jordan photographs the negative effects of product waste on the natural environment. Since 2009, Jordan has been making visits to Midway Atoll located at the northwest end of the Hawaiian archipelago, located within one of the largest protected marine areas in the world. On the tiny atoll, Jordan discovered decaying carcasses of albatross chicks filled with lighters, bottle caps, and other nonbiodegradable plastics. The plastics most likely come from the so-called “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” a vortex of synthetic materials (mostly microscopic in scale) suspended in the ocean north of Midway. The albatross mistake the colorful pieces for food and feed them to their chicks. As the artist reflected: "Looking into the stomachs of those dead birds is like looking into a mirror. It’s a perfect macabre, kind of viscerally horrible reflection of our broken relationship with the natural world…I did a lot of grieving on Midway. Grief is the same as love. Feeling our grief for what’s being lost in our world reconnects us with our love for the world. "

Degrees of Separation: Contemporary Photography from the Permanent Collection (2010-2011)

A lawyer turned environmental activist, Chris Jordan sees his work as a way to shed light on the silent degradation of nature ordinarily invisible to the eye. He traveled to the Midway Atoll, an extremely remote island in the North Pacific Ocean, 2,000 miles from the nearest land. Although the Island is a wildlife refuge, it has proved vulnerable to manmade pollution.

The albatrosses that make their home on the atoll scavenge to feed their young, plucking things from the water that look like food and feeding them to their chicks. Eventually the chicks die, and the contents of their stomachs reveal the cause of death. When Jordan undertook this portfolio in September 2009, it was extremely important to him that he create an objective document of what he observed. This form of environmental reportage is similar to that of Sebastião Salgado.

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