Friday, April 3, 2009

Mitch Epstein's American Power

I'm sure by now nearly everyone has seen selections from Mitch Epstein's ongoing project American Power. However, after seeing the Paul Shambroom lecture a few weeks back, whose photographic career has largely addressed American hegemony, I started reexamining Epstein's project. As Martha Schwendener states in a New York Times review of his exhibition at Sikkema Jenkins & Co.:

"What is interesting, beyond the haunting, complicated beauty and precision of these images, is Mr. Epstein's ability to merge what have long been considered opposing terms: photo-conceptualism and so-called documentary photography. He utilizes the supersize scale and saturated color of conceptualism, and his odd, implied narratives strongly recall the work of artists like Jeff Wall. Mr. Epstein's images also share with Mr. Wall's a look that is at once real and unreal -- or, as people who witness a catastrophe say, 'surreal'.

Yet Mr. Epstein functions like an old-school ''documentary style'' (to use Walker Evans's term) photographer, publishing his images in essay and book formats and heading out into the world to capture preexisting phenomena rather than creating (or recreating) them in his studio."

All photographs from the series American Power

All Images © Mitch Epstein