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Paul Graham: American Night

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Paul Graham's photographs touch upon the social fracture of America--the great divide between the included and excluded, blacks and whites, haves and have-nots. Taking on a simple topic, of late dealt with only through cliché photojournalism, American Night embraces neglected territory in a series of shocking images that sit on the fence between art and document. Graham's images blind and overwhelm the viewer with a feeling akin to stepping out of a sheltered place and into the sunlight. Drained of color, shadow ...
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Overview

Paul Graham's photographs touch upon the social fracture of America--the great divide between the included and excluded, blacks and whites, haves and have-nots. Taking on a simple topic, of late dealt with only through cliché photojournalism, American Night embraces neglected territory in a series of shocking images that sit on the fence between art and document. Graham's images blind and overwhelm the viewer with a feeling akin to stepping out of a sheltered place and into the sunlight. Drained of color, shadow and form, they resonate with the lives of those they portray... and then the sequence snaps, either to a vibrant full-color image of a freshly minted dream house, complete with a blue sky and green grass of unattainable perfection, or to an intensely dark street portrait... before returning to the endless blinding whiteness of everyday life. Beyond their paucity or wealth of color these images contrast one another in their content: these perfect homes are unobtainable to those walking in the burnt landscape; they are a mirage, a dream or promise that can almost never be reached. Here is the chasm between promise and actuality, hope and reality, dream and truth. Shot between 1998 and 2002 in locations across America, including Los Angeles, Memphis, Detroit, New York City and Atlanta.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This latest series by British photographer Graham (End of an Age) subjectively critiques the disparities of American social class by taking his viewers on a walk through several typical major American cities. The majority of his photos are washed-out images of urban street scenes, a method that conveys the look of sun-blindness by rendering them nearly invisible on the page. He effectively juxtaposes these images of poverty against vibrantly colored images of pristine middle-class homes. At the book's center are dark street portraits of estranged African Americans. Ultimately, the book's grand conceit is that the readers themselves will experience a difficult time viewing Graham's near-invisible photographs, as if they are going blind. Extending this approach even further, the book's text is printed white on white paper so that it too is nearly invisible (the faint text consists of a quote from Melville and an essay by Jos Saramago aptly titled "Blindness"). While difficult-to-read printing is usually a bad quality in a book, here it works to make the book a piece of conceptual art unto itself, critiquing middle-class excesses by serving as a subjective metaphor for America's blindness to social inequities. Recommended for larger photography collections.-Shauna Frischkorn, Millersville Univ., PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9783882439199
  • Publisher: SteidlMack
  • Publication date: 11/21/2008
  • Edition description: German Edition
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 11.50 (w) x 15.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Graham was born in England and currently lives in New York. The recipient of many awards including a Eugene Smith Memorial Fellowship, his work has been exhibited extensively, including at The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Tate Gallery, London. Graham's previously published books include Troubled Land, New Europe, Empty Heaven and End of an Age.

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