Monday, August 20, 2007

justin james reed

i came across justin james reed's photos quite a while ago, and i've been trying to write something about him for as much time. i visited his website. i read his blog. i went back to the website. but the writer's block persisted.

his most recent body of work is of philadelphia, my home town, which i think is what complicated the situation. i had trouble disentangling my feelings for the city with my feelings for the work. both of which i like very much. the picture above is a quintessential image of philiadelphia to me: trash plastered to a baseball fence on a cloudy fall day amidst a pile of leaves that no one will ever bother to rake up.

the image below on the other hand presented a bigger problem. it reminded me somehow more of a european city than it did philly. the warm, glow-time light clashed with my memories of the place. laundry hanging in the sun? in philly? where?

yet i've seen all manner of photographs of philadelphia. why wouldnt't these images settle? so i spent some time looking at justin's serene images of the midwestern united states. greeted with skillfully rendered gestures and some rather stunning landscapes, i was left to conclude that he carried some quiet and tranquility across the country with him. to philadelphia. a place not especially well known for it's tranquility. you can see the contradiction i was facing.

but finally i found his artist statement on the hey hot shot! website:

i became interested in the relationship between evacuated spaces, and contained lives in the cityscape...through juxtaposition of portraits with the lived environment a more personal vision of this hostile terrain presents itself. by focusing on south philadelphia’s individual aspects, i am documenting the place that i see, and am now proud to call home.

is there anything more philadelphian than a little south philly pride? i think not.


Anonymous said...

back when i worked in old city, i passed this guys work up in the temple gallery..i guess it was his thesis show. it was good- the stuff on display was very minimal and structural

Anonymous said...
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