On the day Obama entered the White House, Robert Leslie embarked on an 8000-kilometre journey from Miami to Los Angeles through the Sun Belt in the Southwestern United States, revisiting the same locations in late 2011. With the manufacturing region of the Midwest and Northeast, known as the Rust Belt, fading in importance, the American South had long been looked to as the future of the US economy: The population was growing and agriculture, the military, and home construction were all booming. Setting out in 2009, at the height of the economic meltdown, Leslie discovered a region ravaged by social and financial mismanagement, and manmade and natural environmental chaos. The Sun Belt had lost its lustre and appeared to be in decline. The artist constructs a narrative thread using photographs, moving images, and audio to offer insights into the people he met, how his own solitary experience shaped the pictures he took, and a visceral sense of the displacement and despair so characteristic of the country’s mood at the time.

An e-book and monograph will be published by Blurb. Edited by Chris Boot, director of the Aperture Foundation. Texts by Cameron Sinclair and Edward Burtynsky.