2. A GREAT GREEN DESERT

2017-ongoing
Ryan Griffis & Sarah Ross
HD video, altered globes, digital 4-color prints, digital photomontages of original photographs

Images above include: A Great Green Desert 4-Channel video installation: Ryan Griffis/Sarah Ross; The World in Some Parts, six altered globes, dimensions variable, Sarah Ross; Nothing can be sold, but such things as can be carried away, 2 sets of 500 offset prints, each 4-color, 2-sided, 17 x 22 in. Ryan Griffis; Into the Pit, digital photomontage using original photographs, 18 x 18 in. Ryan Griffis.


A Great Green Desert is an experimental documentary project that examines two massive terraforming projects in the Americas, the US Corn Belt and Brazil’s “Soy Frontier”. The project brings together documentary field work, archival and literary research, and interviews with experts, scholars, and activists. The title, “A Great Green Desert,” is derived from a passage in Herbert Quick’s 1922 novel Vandemark’s Folly. Quick’s book follows a fictional homesteader, who like many 19th century European settlers, describes his encounter with the prairie’s vast grasslands in sublime terms; “I shall never forget the sight. It was like a great green sea.” This project proposes that this “great green sea,” home to a variety of human, plant and animal lives, has undergone a process of desertification, driven by mechanized agriculture and settler colonial ideologies.

There are several components that include a 4-channel video installation, video interviews, sculptural objects, photomontages, and creative writing. The larger project is a collaboration with artist/educator Sarah Ross, with different components being made either collectively or individually.

Additional information about the project.

Video samples below: 4-channel installation with sound design by M. Anthony Reimer and animation by Megan Diddie; interview with Dr. Gustavo Oliveira; Of Surpluses & Embargoes.