Friday, February 01, 2008

a shimmer of possibility

From A-1: The Great North Road to Empty Heaven, Paul Graham has been incredibly adept at exploring and expanding the potential of social documentary practice. As an artist who has continually reinvented and pushing himself to explore the potentials of the medium, Graham's latest work, a shimmer of possibility, is an amazing contribution not only to his complex body of work, but to the medium as well. In a time when the photographic default, not only critically and institutionally, are often monumental images that blur the lines between cinema and the still-image, Graham's complex and subtle work has reinvigorated the tradition of social documentary photography.
At once sumptuous and nondescript, the gorgeous rainbow hued volumes contain sequences of such quiet grace that it would be easy to initially dismiss them as casual throw offs that any "serious" photography would have either never printed or deleted from their digital camera. While containing their own individual strengths, the real beauty comes from the ways in which the images are woven together in what the photographer has called "filmic haikus." Each book contains a short sequence of images that are connected thematically - from a book that only contains one amazing image of a decaying Camero to the complex ballet of a New Orleans street corner spread out over 60 images. Influenced by the short stories of Chekhov, each book is a gem of a short story that reveals the often complicated, disturbing, and at times beautiful, reality of America in the 21st century.
To read more about the books, check out these reviews: here and here.
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