I recently spent a week photographing the Salton Sea region of California’s Low Desert. If you’ve never head of this, the Salton Sea is a large stagnant body of water about 75 miles north of the Mexico border. The lake is highly polluted from illegal dumping, and poisonous run-off from the surrounding farming operations. The reason for the stagnation is due to the lack of an fresh water inlet and outlet.
The cities around this lake are literal ghost town these days. Empty, abandoned shells of a once energetic idea of creating a recreational area complete with hotels & resorts to house the people escaping from LA to fish, boat, enjoy the waters, and relax. These days the only reason people go to the Salton Sea region of California is to get lost, be hidden, or to do die.
While there I explored many abandoned houses and buildings. Some were empty, gutted concrete shells, like books who’s pages had been ripped out, never to share the story within. Others though, were full, rich in content, every page complete, inviting me to read more and more. I felt comfortable exploring these houses. I reminisced of photographing abandoned houses in my home town of Lancaster, CA.
These houses were still full of belongings. It still fascinates me, as to the nature of the people who lived here, where they went. What happened to them. What made them leave so abruptly? If the walls could talk what type of stories would they share with me? All I am left with are the artifacts; unopened mail, photographs, clothing, and other items strewn about.
For a place where one goes to get lost, or hide, what has happened to these people who’s lives lie in piles strewn about these houses, photos still on the wall, dishes in the sink? Where the property value is worth less than the trailer they live in? And the people who still live here, and still rely on the lake for a source of food(?) [this statement has yet to be proven. It is based strictly on observation], even though fish are washing up on the shores dead daily. These are some of the questions I seek to answer in my next project, Discovering the Lost: Life in the Salton Sea.