Over its relatively short course, the cultural legacy of Southern
California has held an ongoing dialogue between utopian ideals and
apocalyptic apprehension – the boosterism of the “end of the road”
state heralded for its promise and abundance in tension with concerns
about the fragility of its natural and built environment. Photographers
working in Southern California have long responded to its exceptional
physical terrain as well as the presence of its entertainment industry,
with the liminal lure of image sundered from reality to generate a
dream realm for consumption. The region’s strong and sustained academic
network has supported artistic output marked by an emphasis on material
craft and conceptual experiment.
Building upon a photographic tradition drawn to the region’s daylight or to its Klieg light, the photographers assembled here reckon with the radical changes now posed by digital production and emerging social media. In diverse and highly personal ways, their work suggests common interests in examining the physical make-up, presentation, and dissemination of photo-based art; a greater acceptance of the mediated experience a photo-driven world offers for the formation of contemporary identity; and a greater interest in the possibilities for curating one’s own understanding of the world. Some of the photographers revisit the inherent fragility and provisional materiality of historic photographic processes; others engage the indexical possibilities of performance – self, appropriated image, altered environment – to elicit new realms of attention and meaning. All engage, in various ways, with the relationship of memory to the formation of personal experience and understanding. In total, the assembled achievements of
these eight photographers begin to suggest the vitality and richness of American photographic practice today.
Associate Curator, Wallis Annenberg Photography Department, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
This exhibition made possible by FotoFest 2010 Biennial Sponsors, Williams Tower and Sally Sprout.