Pictures of Hell.  Photographs by Mark Ruwedel.
Pictures of Hell.  booktease preview.

Pictures of Hell.

Photographs by Mark Ruwedel.
RAM Publications, 2014. 352 pp., 132 black & white tritone illustrations, 9½x11¾".

Publisher's Description


Selected as one of the Best Books of 2014 by:

Printed in an edition of only 500 copies.

Devils Canyon, Hells Half Acre, Dirty Devil River: photographer Mark Ruwedel visited all of these places and more, while creating the series Pictures of Hell. This book is the culmination of the journey he began in 1995, and brings together virtually every photographic image in the artist’s brilliant interpretation of the American West. This interpretation focuses on sites and places with the word “hell” or “devil” or some variation thereof in their names.

Place names evoking Satan and his dominion were imposed on the arid Western landscape by Euro-American explorers and settlers, who considered it desolate wilderness, cursed, populated with heathens and demons. By naming them, Euro-Americans symbolically took possession of these sites, denying the existence of indigenous cultures. These place names may also suggest the frustrations or whimsical humor of the nominators.

Ruwedel is inspired by the 19th-century photographers whose photo albums revealed the glories of the West. He differs from those earlier photographers, however, in that his view of the landscape is not uncritical. Rather, in Pictures of Hell, he layers history with a contemporary investigation of technology, anthropology and colonization.

132 photographs are meticulously reproduced as tritone plates along with essays by Simon Baker and Chiara Siravo. With intellect and wit, Ruwedel investigates what the West means today, and how its mythology and culture affect our current sensibilities

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