Ryan Griffis is faculty member in the Studio Art Program
A Great Green Desert is an experimental documentary project that examines two massive terraforming projects in the Americas, the US Corn Belt and Brazil’s “Soy Frontier”. The project brings together documentary field work, archival and literary research, and interviews with experts, scholars, and activists. The title, “A Great Green Desert,” is derived from a passage in Herbert Quick’s 1922 novel Vandemark’s Folly. Quick’s book follows a fictional homesteader, who like many 19th century European settlers, describes his encounter with the prairie’s vast grasslands in sublime terms; “I shall never forget the sight. It was like a great green sea.” This project proposes that this “great green sea,” home to a variety of human, plant and animal lives, has undergone a process of desertification, driven by mechanized agriculture and settler colonial ideologies. A Great Green Desert was produced by Ryan Griffis and Sarah Ross (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and takes several forms, including multi-channel video, documentary photography, creative non-fiction, and photomontage.
More about the project >