Caught by the River


26th October 2017

The following piece was originally published by Inside the Outside, the landscape photography collective who, in their own words, ‘mediate the liminal space between the world before us and within’. We’ve been finding ourselves returning to their site increasingly frequently of late, so if they’re not already on your radar, they’re definitely worth a look. Thanks, Inside the Outside, for allowing us to re-post. Without further ado, here’s Kathleen Donohoe’s brilliant ELUTRIATE.


To purify, separate, or remove by washing.
To purify by straining.

I am in the back seat of my father’s car. I am sitting next to the window. My elbow is digging into the arm rest and I am pressed firmly against the door. No one in my family is speaking. The tension is palpable in this small, enclosed space. We are speeding down the highway. My window is open just a crack and the backs of my legs are sticking to the vinyl seat. I am restless. There is a lump of fear in my throat and I have a sense that all hell could break loose at any moment. My face is against the window and my breath is creating a fog on the glass that I can only partially see through. I long to escape. Through this steamy fog I see fires burning out of control. I see train tracks, towers, endless power lines, factories, and swaths of open water, interrupted by a labyrinth of estuaries weaving through millions of tall reeds-all whipping by at a rapid speed. I am mesmerized by this bizarre industrial landscape and I am desperate to disappear into it.

This series examines a childhood fantasy about living in the New Jersey Meadowlands of the 70’s and early 80’s. For decades I have recalled this mysterious open space and the feelings that go with it- my memories blending with my childhood imagination- merging the landscape I witnessed with the beautiful escape that I imagined for myself. This work is about paying homage to a sorely neglected and unappreciated space that lent my imagination the comfort and creativity to escape my present circumstance. I am using 35mm and 4×5 and 8×10 pinhole cameras, traditional film and paper negatives, and contemplating the point at which a landscape morphs from documentary to memory to fantasy.


More photographs from the series can be found on the original Inside the Outside post.

Kathleen Donohoe’s website/Twitter account

Inside the Outside on Twitter