Alan Labb

Sunrise Over Silver Lake, Pittsfield, MA. 2013

My father was a company man living in a company town. He died when he was thirty-nine years old. After his death, I left home when I was seventeen, and only returned when I was forty-nine, to photograph. In revisiting my hometown, I was looking for a tangible connection to the man I never knew as an adult; my only inheritance from my father was his cancerous genes. This image and others in the series “Two-Million-Volts to the Heart” form a link with my past, exposing the cancerous landscape of my childhood.  General Electric (GE) long ago abandoned the town, one of their eighty-six polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) Superfund sites. Throughout seventy years of illegal corporate dumping, GE donated contaminated soil to the town for use as landfill. The PCBs still make themselves known as they bubble up in basements, playgrounds, schools, rivers, and lakes. The corporation’s grim industrial stain on the land remains like the scene of a crime, silent, empty, and toxic.