Dreams on the Dying Stone (2021 - )
Driving through the desert in southern California, the Imperial Valley appears first as a mirage, transforming the crusty and rugged landscape into an oasis. Vibrant alfalfa, sugar beet, and mixed lettuces glow an unthinkable green under the scorching sun as sprinklers drizzle them with water. The sight is breathtaking but briefly obscures the harsh reality that the region lies at the center of the country’s most important water crisis.
The Imperial Valley stretches along the US-Mexico border between the Salton Sea and the Colorado River, but its existence defies all odds. The man-made agricultural region came to be in the early 1900s when fortune-seeking settlers began digging canals to siphon water from the Colorado River into the arid landscape. Today, the valley produces 90% of the country’s winter vegetables, and it has become the largest consumer of the river’s water, surpassing Arizona and Nevada combined. But with climate change and overconsumption, the Colorado River is drying out, putting the valley's future at risk.
Dreams on the Dying Stone documents the communities caught in the crossfire of this climate crisis. What is happening in the region is symbolic of the inequality that plagues the rest of the nation, where only a few people benefit from both resource extraction and the efforts to mitigate it, while others are set to face the brunt of climate change. The project poses the question: What, or who, are we willing to sacrifice in the face of climate change?