From Darren Campion’s piece for The Incoherent Light:
Those familiar conventions by which the landscape is represented (and so, by which it is understood) are a persistent legacy of romanticism. The restless energies that shape human civilisation were contrasted to the pure sublimity of nature, embodied by endless uninhabited vistas and found wanting; the “state” of nature was inherently free from corruption. But these ideas—and how they were given form in painting and elsewhere—are the product of intense social change as much as they are a reflection on the what is “natural” in itself. Our understanding of the landscapes that Michael Lundgren has studied was also necessarily shaped by that particular discourse of place; it is a cultural motif especially potent in an American context, where the western frontier represents a hope for boundless expansion. But the harshness of what he finds there is a pointed lesson in just what toll such a hopefulness exacts—this is a kind of failed Eden. Indeed, the mythology of the West has long been central to America’s conception of itself, incontrovertible destiny writ large on a landscape that was less a discovery as it was a work of cultural imagination. Lundgren pictures the same frontier as a place from which all promise has been stripped and what remains of this longed-for paradise is merely stasis, a desolate parody of once fertile abundance.