The saguaro cactus has long been synonymous with the deserts of the American west and a symbol of rugged endurance in a harsh environment. The most anthropomorphic of plants, the saguaro’s majestic verticality soars against the horizon-to-horizon sweep of desert scrub.
Denniston’s cacti, their trunks and limbs cradled and braced, tap that legendary toughness to add poignancy to their potential as icons of environmental degradation. And subtly embedded in the DNA of these barely coloured photographs are historical American texts of social and political aspiration and idealism, such as 1863’s Emancipation Proclamation, 1872’s Yellowstone Act or 1883’s The New Colossus, a poem by Emma Lazarus.
In the spirit of his photo-text series of the 1990s, fictions, in which straight photographs are confounded by their all-too-plausible overlaid texts, and his ongoing series of video works, stills, static works in a medium meant to capture motion, Denniston’s new photo-constructions whisper their subtle artifice in an age of wide-open digital manipulation.