n 2003, during the first housing boom of the new millennium, Stacy Mehrfar set out to photograph the spate of new suburban developments throughout the continental United States. Initially attracted to the overwhelming capacity with which these tracts were steadily encroaching upon the wilderness, Mehrfar soon began turning her camera on the older communities that were often left to neglect in the wake of their newer counterparts.
Photographed in twenty-eight states over a five-year period, the result is the two-part project entitled American Palimpsests | This Was What There Was. The junction of the two—the early twenty-first century suburbs of American Palimpsests, and the remnants of a colorful past amid a national transformation in This Was What There Was—represents a geographical liminal state between old and new, unique and undifferentiated, natural and artificial.
Many of the new communities Mehrfar photographed emptied amid the first bust of the new millennium, leaving behind incomplete developments and heavily altered landscapes. American Palimpsests | This Was What There Was is a photographic reckoning of several cycles of growth and contraction that reflect the American way of life today.
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