Mark Vitaris’ moving black and white photography and narratives of the country that straddles the forty-ninth parallel on the Great Plains of North America is a portrayal of a land where you can feel the wind blow the dust of ages. It is a place of melancholic beauty, an oasis of solitudes. The land is presented metaphorically as a river of time with tributaries of history and disparate cultures flowing in discontinuous moments of consciousness. From an evolving landscape, to the histories of the movement of people, to the mapping and establishment of the boundary, change has been constant. During five years of crisscrossing the borderlands, Vitaris has driven its roads to experience and photograph this incomparable landscape and has eaten its dust in order to understand it. The emerging portrait of the borderlands and its people pays homage to resilience and fortitude, enduring qualities elicited by an unforgiving environment. Vitaris has drawn upon an awareness of the histories enacted on the land to steer his course of photographic and personal exploration toward the intersection of pasts and the present.
What they’re saying about Borderlands
The photographs invite contemplation. Like the land they depict they’re quiet and uncrowded but reward close study. I think Mark’s texts are interesting and helpful introductions to the photographs, serving to ground us in the experience behind their creation. I was especially taken by the passages about border crossings. Borderlands is a powerful and unique addition to artistic and cultural studies of the northern plains. I look forward to purchasing a copy for the Yale Collection of Western Americana.
– George Miles, William Robertson Co-Curator, Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
What an endeavor! Borderlands is like a stand alone museum artifact…
– Christopher Kortlander, Custer Battlefield Museum, Montana
Mark Vitaris presents powerful images and words throughout Borderlands. The stories and poems, with the accompanying dramatic photos, leave the reader with a sense of journey and purpose as they travel along both sides of the Canadian-American international boundary.
– Ken Robison, Historian, Overholser Historical Research Center, Montana