Swan island industrial park

When the United States Exploring Expedition of Charles Wilkes mapped the Oregon Territory in 1841, they referred to this spot as Oak Island, and later Willow Island. It was an actual island until the 1920s, when it was connected to the east bank of the Willamette River by landfill, in preparation for further development. In the 1930s Swan Island was the site of Portland's first airport; during World War II it was used for shipbuilding. In this series of black-and-white photographs I examine the natural and built environment of Swan Island, documenting the structures and spaces that define the area as a geography of production.


"Between Portland and St. Johns, Swan Island occupies a kind of no-man’s land, an industrial zone largely segregated from the general public. In 15 photographs in stark black-and-white, Alain LeTourneau has captured the area’s eerily impersonal avenues of capitalist production. Nighttime photos of the empty parking lots and vast warehouses are especially creepy. It’s a portrait of the factory as haunted house." 

Richard Speer, Willamette Week

"Portland based artist Alain LeTourneau has taken on the necessary and perhaps under appreciated industrial subject of Swan Island for his latest photography series. He's got an interesting conceptual framework for the work, which considers the 'geography of production' and the division of 'labor space'. It is a part of Portland that simply plays by different rules of spatial conduct."

Jeff Jahns, Portlandart.net

Funded in part by
Regional Arts and Culture Council