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Category: Camera Reality

Married to America by Justin Clifford Rhody

These point and shoot snapshots that make up Married to America by Justin Clifford Rhody are unconcerned with American beauty, picturesque plateaus, the fog of golden hour, or road trip tropes. This marriage is more like beige linoleum, a toilet painted black and chipping, or a tin bust of our first American father. More like honesty than infatuation. More like fancy-up what we’ve got—ketchup on scrambled eggs.

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Land of Smiles by Chris Mottalini

Despite the photographs presenting so little information, cumulatively Land of Smiles feels so deliberate. If the images withhold, if the text and title mislead, it feels like the intent of Mottalini to do so. Even the texture of the paper and the uncut pages carry great but open meaning—paired with images that read like one sees with pupils dilated—they all coalesce in Land of Smiles. Not often is so little so satisfying. The difficulty is the reveal and the pleasure is not fully knowing.

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Where You Come From is Gone by Jared Ragland and Cary Norton

Remembrance is just as prevalent in Birmingham-based fine art photographers Jared Ragland and Cary Norton’s collaborative project GUSDUGGER—of which the series Where You Come From Is Gone is included—as it was integral to the 2016 political campaign slogan: Make America Great Again, but the two could perhaps not be further divided. If MAGA remembers a time we as Americans are to reclaim, then Where You Come From Is Gone remembers what we took and the places deconstructed to make this country what it is today.

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A Brief Interview with Noelle McCleaf

“Before Hurricane Irma, I spent a week frantically throwing all of my belongings into plastic bags. […] I came to the obvious realization that most of us, myself included, have an unhealthy addiction to things. Trying to move and protect all of my belongings exhausted me so thoroughly that I simply left some things unwrapped. […] If I’ve learned anything from my subjects, it’s that we humans have a long way to go if we want to continue living on this planet, and we only have to look back a hundred years to understand that we are very capable of living without many of the things we think we ‘need'[.]”

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A Brief Interview with Colin Stearns

“I’ve always felt that the urban blight was the opposite end of the connective tissue of living. We really can’t have Central Park without the landfill that supports the garbage left there or the bulldozed refuse that created that space […] Someone has felt this before, is feeling this, and perhaps that this is the proper and eventual flow of the universe. I believe it might be through this that we have hope.”

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all that cannot be said by Colin Stearns

Photographs of burnt out car shells made in detail like insurance claims appear approximately one-third of the way into Colin Stearns’ all that cannot be said. Everything prior—brick walls, a wedding dress and tux on window display, wrought iron fences, flowers left as memorial tied to telephone poles, missing persons signs—read like a long prologue to the charred remains. 

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Gravity Is Stronger Here by Phyllis B. Dooney and Jardine Libaire

Other than poverty, what exactly the cigarettes (and alcohol and drugs) throughout Gravity Is Stronger Here help Dooney’s subject matter escape isn’t fully on display in the photographs alone. Not that poverty is not oppressive enough. Not that it doesn’t promote a feeling of ineptitude. The Browns appear to be stuck and at times seem to not know what to do with their situation any more than what to do in front of the camera. At times they feel very aware of the camera’s presence, mugging unnaturally through their drugs, God, boredom, and a whole lot of doing nothing. But in text and visual clues one learns that the Browns have internal and external struggles. They deal with difficult situations with great self-awareness and honesty. Accompanied by Libaire’s poems the sometimes overly dramatic feels sincere.

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Wipe Your Nose Sugar Boy by Mark Albain

If Wipe Your Nose Sugar Boy is situated within Southern Gothic themes, Albain wastes no time getting directly to one of its most central themes—religion. […] Vanity plates and discarded signs indicate that Wipe Your Nose Sugar Boy is set at least in part, in Tennessee. A dead bird, tattered things covered in tarps, and overgrown fauna that follow suggest that in Albain’s South, the gospel is less about prosperity and more about the realism of muted gray tones.

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A Brief Interview with Joel Whitaker

“I want to work through the visual problem of not what a photograph is of, but what it is about and how do I, as a viewer and maker, understand, appreciate, and create that meaning from the experience of viewing. Is the photograph a neutral space in which we are being invited in, or is it charged with meaning and we are expected to respond in whatever way we think is appropriate. It can be difficult.”

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