2015 - 2016
Salton Sea is a large salt lake located on the San Andreas Fault, in an arid depression of Southwestern California, 227 feet below sea level. It was accidentally created at the beginning of the last century when the Colorado River overflowed its banks. It was a very popular tourist attraction in the 1950s and 1960s, and a paradise for fishing aficionados. Its shores were dotted by numerous hotels, marinas and yacht clubs. The area then underwent significant economic and population growth.

Towards the 1970s, it was observed that the lake’s water level dropped and its salinity rose. The mirage gradually faded… It was replaced by no-man’s lands and ghost towns. Today, the area surrounding the Salton Sea is deserted and desolate; the water is polluted by alluvial deposits saturated with fertilizers and pesticides; algae blooms are decimating the fish. Beach side resorts have given way to trailer parks, home to the poor, the marginalized and Mexican immigrants.

The forlorn landscapes surrounding the Salton Sea are loaded with social, political, environmental and metaphoric implications. They seem to mirror a lost America, an era in which everything seemed possible and accessible for all citizens. These strange lands give us another, unflattering image, of a nation more divided and unequal than ever. These are like other areas of dire poverty found all across the United States, a Third World of their own where the most destitute live for lack of a better alternative.

Nowadays few people care about the Salton Sea and its inhabitants. The area brings in low tax revenue for the State and only the toxic fumes it emits are cause for some concern, since, on windy days, Riverside County, California’s richest, is overwhelmed by the smell of death.