An Epic Postcard Mural on the Future of a Country in Ecological Peril
Lawrence Weschler and David Opdyke. Afterword by Maya Wiley
David Opdyke’s massive collage This Land (as elucidated in this book by award-winning author Lawrence Weschler) presents a slow-burning satire of the American Dream as it blunders into the reality of climate change.
This Land is an epic mural fashioned by New York artist David Opdyke out of vintage American postcards which he then treated with disconcerting painted interventions. What at first reads as a panoramic birdʼs-eye view of an idyllic alpine valley reveals itself, upon closer examination, to be an array of connected scenes and vignettes. Across more than five hundred postcards, each one portraying a distinct slice of idealized Americana (town squares, mountain highways, main streets and county seats), Opdykeʼs acerbic, emotionally jarring alterations gradually become evident.
In this prophetic refashioning, forests are aflame, tornadoes torque from one card into the next, a steamboat gets swallowed up whole by some sort of new megafauna, frogs fall like Biblical hail from the sky. The human responses form a cacophony of desires and demands, panic and denial. Biplanes trail banners urging Repent Now!, others insist Legislative Action Would Be Premature, while still others advertise seats on an actual Ark.
The book This Land affords readers a closer and closer viewing of Opdyke’s devastatingly sardonic take on our impending ecological future, one in turn enlivened by Lawrence Weschlerʼs vividly sly blend of artist profile and critical interpretation. Featuring introductory essays providing background on the artist and the project as a whole, This Land also divides the sprawling mural into eight sections to allow for a more intimate viewing. Interspersed among the detailed visual sections are insightful thematic essays by Lawrence Weschler and an afterword that serves as a stirring call to action by civil rights attorney Maya Wiley. Additionally, the book’s jacket is printed on both sides, folding out to reveal the work in its full grandeur.
Praise for This Land
"This is among the most remarkable art projects that the climate era has produced—an epic work that bears endless seeing, and endless thinking."
—Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?
"David Opdyke’s mural, paired with Lawrence Weschler’s lively commentary, is a masterclass in looking closely at the climate crisis—in all its absurdity and horror, its complexities and transformative potential. A stunning work."
—Naomi Klein, author of On Fire: The Burning Case for the Green New Deal
"David Opdyke’s mural is mind-blowing in the scale of its sustained and obsessive concentration. It is, in fact, so perfectly realized and beautifully executed that, while the subject Opdyke confronts might necessarily bring one down, somehow you emerge from engaging his artwork with an elevated feeling."
—Eric Fischl, artist and educator
"This Land is a startling showcase for two far-seeing artists. David Opdyke’s postcard mosaic is a wonderment and a warning, an operatic conjuring of a ravaged planet. From Opdyke’s vision of environmental collapse, Lawrence Weschler weaves his own penetrating tale. Weschler’s essay stirs together history, art, and pop culture in a series of epiphanies that detonate in a piercing call to action."
—Lauren Redniss, author of Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future and Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West
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