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Matt O'Brien (firstname.lastname@example.org)
to the Ranch is my study and celebration of ranching in the East
Bay. Ranching in the area traces its origins back to the eighteenth
century with the founding of Mission San Jose by the Spanish in
present day Fremont. When I began the project in 1991, it was
not in response to the loss of ranch lands. I only came to understand
how rapidly the region is losing its agricultural lands and how
harmful and destructive that process is while at work on the project.
initial motivation was simply to explore this way of life which
is so remarkably different from that of the other six and a half
million people living in the Bay Area. It's a way of life that is
passed down from one generation to the next, where people have intimate
relationships with the land and with animals, and where a day's
work in the summer is different from a day's work in the winter.
very different, and it seems to me a much more fundamentally human
way of living, than what most Americans do for work nowadays in
their offices and cubicles doing more or less the same thing whether
its spring or fall, wet or dry. Activities revolving around the
seasons and the rhythms of nature around which human beings have
lived their lives for millennia, like the harvest, planting, and
calving, for most of us now, are merely words and concepts that
don't seem to have anything to do with our lives.
I began the project, five of the ranches I photographed have been
carved up, graded, and are in various stages of conversion into
housing tracts and shopping centers. One of the ranches was flooded
to make way for a new reservoir which will supply water for further
residential development. Naturally, one of the themes of the project
became the loss of these lands and of this way of life.
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