Monuments of Displacement
The Aerial Photographs of Bill DuBois


THE VAST LANDSCAPE TRANSFORMATIONS OF open pit mining can only be truly comprehended from the air, and Bill DuBois' photographs of mines, displayed in the Center's Los Angeles exhibition space from February 13 to April 20, depict the staggering intensity of these man-made landscapes with an unusual clarity.

These oblique aerial images show multicolored evaporation ponds, cascading layers of tailings piles, and huge stepped pits in the remote mountains of Nevada. Nevada is the precious-metals mining capital of the country, with more than 50 major mining operations employing over 13,000 people, producing gold, silver, tungsten, and many other valuable minerals.

Mr. DuBois has been conducting aerial surveys of the major mines in Nevada every few years, starting in 1975, when he served as the state inspector of mines. In 1981 he changed jobs, and donated the collection of 1,500 photographs from the previous six years of photography to the Bureau of Mines at the University of Nevada at Reno. After this point, he continued to photograph for his own archive, using a medium format Hasselblad camera.

The result is a unique collection of thousands of images, and a fascinating "stop action" record of the transformative evolution of these sites. The photographs in this exhibit are a selection from the most recent completed survey, conducted during 1995 and 1996. Mr. DuBois is at work on the next series.

Mr. DuBois currently works as a manager for a mine in Aurora, Nevada. He lives outside of Fallon, Nevada, where he has built a lighted runway that runs to a hangar in the back of his house. He has flown over 300,000 miles in his 1955 Cessna 180, and takes the pictures out the window while simultaneously piloting the airplane.

At the opening of the exhibit at the Center exhibition space in Los Angeles, Mr. DuBois presented a slide lecture featuring hundreds more of his unusual images, and he discussed the mining processes depicted in the images.

1157 Sixteen of Bill DuBois' aerial photographs of the strip mines of Nevada were featured. Photo by Bill DuBois