Viewing Record 1 of 6 artist: Barnes, Richard

Montana (Unabomber Cabin Site)

  • Accession Number:
  • Artist:
    Barnes, Richard
  • Date:
  • Medium:
    Digital chromogenic development print; Diptych
  • Dimensions:
    frame: 41 9/16 in x 51 9/16 in x 1 7/8 in
  • Credit Line:
    Museum purchase with funds provided by Andreas Waldburg-Wolfegg


About the Photographer

Barnes, Richard

American, b. 1953

Intrigued by practice of collecting and preserving evidence for a crime scene, Richard Barnes photographs the cabin once inhabited by The Unabomber, now known to be Ted Kaczynski, who threatened the country from 1978 to 1996 by sending untraceable handmade bombs to various locations across the nation. Born in Chicago in 1942, Kaczynski was a child prodigy who graduated from Harvard University at age twenty and went on to earn a PhD in mathematics from the University of Michigan. In 1971, he moved to Montana in an attempt to live self-sufficiently with no electricity or running water in a remote cabin he built himself. While living in the wilderness, he saw the natural environment around his home become destroyed by industrial development. As a form of protest and to assert his belief that modern technologies threaten human freedom, Kaczynski began to construct explosives and initiated his infamous bombing campaign. Sixteen bombs were delivered to individuals and universities, killing three people and injuring twenty-three more. After Kaczynski’s brother identified him through a manifesto that he had written and sent to the FBI for publication, he was captured. The cabin was transported across the country to a storage facility in order to be used as evidence; however, it was never used in court.

Richard Barnes photographs the cabin forensically as it might appear in a police record, underscoring its evidentiary role by shooting it from all four sides in black-and-white with sharp focus and floating against a black background. He also photographs the cabin in the FBI warehouse, on display in a room like a piece of contemporary sculpture in an art gallery, and combines it with a photograph of the location in which the cabin once stood - its former placement now delineated by a chain-link fence. Interested in the idea of displacement and the ambiguity of representation, Barnes highlights the disconnect between the banal appearance of the cabin and the infamous status it has acquired through circumstance.

Born in 1953 in Newark, New Jersey, Richard Barnes completed his BA from the University of California, Berkeley (1979). He has held solo exhibitions at the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; Carpenter Center at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; University of Michigan Art Museum, Ann Arbor, MI; and the Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum, Bloomfield, MI. His work is held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Cleveland Museum of Art; Philadelphia Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Gardens, Washington, D.C. Barnes has served as an adjunct professor and visiting artist at the San Francisco Art Institute and has also taught at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. He now lives and works in New York.