Yale University Art Gallery
Robert Adams: The Place We Live
More than ninety percent of the original forest in the American Northwest has been clearcut at least once. The large stumps in these pictures are remnants of an ancient woods where trees commonly grew to be five hundred or more years old. The small stumps are what is left of a recently “harvested” monoculture, an industrial forest sustained by artificial fertilizers and selective herbicides and cut in its infancy.

Will this practice eventually exhaust the soil and end in permanent deforestation? There are numerous areas in the world where this has happened, among them parts of China, a country that has recently banned clearcutting. Efforts to restrict clearcutting in the American Northwest have, however, mostly failed.
As I recorded these scenes, I found myself asking many questions, among them:

What of equivalent value have we inherited in exchange for the original forest?

Is there a relationship between clearcutting and war, the landscape of one being in some respects like the landscape of the other? Does clearcutting originate in disrespect? Does it teach violence? Does it contribute to nihilism?

Why did I almost never meet parents walking here with their children?

—R.A., 2005