Geoff Nicholson's Includes Divola in LA Review of Books

"Wish I Weren't Here," by Geoff Nicholson, Los Angeles Review of Books

Divola seems to be a photographer whose time has come, demonstrating once again that there’s nothing like four decades of hard toil for creating overnight success. He recently had three exhibitions running simultaneously, in Pomona, Santa Barbara, and at LACMA, under the joint title As Far as I Could Get. The LACMA segment runs until July.

It would be reductive to regard Divola simply as a desert photographer but I think his best work, or at any rate all the work I like best, features the desert one way or another. Isolated Houses is a series of large format color photographs, also a book, showing single dwellings in the Mojave desert around Twentynine Palms, some inhabited, some not. The houses are small, simple, elemental, sometimes just made of cinderblocks. The light tends to be low and golden, and the desert looks gorgeous. Inevitably this is not pristine desert. Human presence is thinly spread but conspicuous and ubiquitous, and it would be possible for a certain eye to regard these isolated houses as blots on the landscape, but I don’t feel that’s Divola’s angle. In his pictures they fit perfectly. It must also be said some of them seem so insubstantial that they don’t look as though it’d be much of a job to clear them away.