Aller | Waste Pool, Marble Quarry, Barre, VT

Robert Aller (American, b. 1947)
Waste Pool, Marble Quarry, Barre, VT (1989)
Chromogenic print, 23 ½ x 29 ¾”
Gift of Robert Aller, 2001.10

In his Transfigured Landscape series, Aller records the spectacular impact of human labor on nature through carefully framed images of the industrial landscape. These photographs can be read in at least two ways. This example shows the devastation wrought by excavation, an indelible mark that may never be erased. At the same time, the photograph’s formal beauty establishes a dichotomy with the spoiled landscape.  

Moving Mass

Paleolithic. Mesolithic. Neolithic. These are the three grand age-domains of ancient archaeology. We're still in the stone age with respect to mineral resources, which we mine by the billions of tons each year to keep society going. In fact, humans now move earthly materials at a rate higher than any other geological agency, including glaciers and rivers. In this scene, ancient lime mud became limestone, which became marble, which became, in the Anthropocene, a commercial commodity linked to the world by railroad.

Thanks to comments on an article in The Daily Campus, the Benton has learned that the title of this photograph is incorrect. On February 10, 2021 Jordana Castelli published an article in response to Critical Looking: A Virtual Dialogue, a public program hosted by the museum in which participants discussed Robert Aller’s photograph. Daily Campus readers commented that Barre is known for granite and questioned whether the photograph could show a marble quarry. Benton curator Amanda Douberley reached out to the artist, who confirmed that the photograph was mistitled when he donated it to the museum in 2001. Aller had made photographs in surrounding areas where marble was quarried, which probably led to the error. Museum staff have updated our records to reflect the correction.