Friday, November 6, 2009

"This Train is Bound for Glory"

The current Justine Kurland show at Mitchell-Innes & Nash takes its title from an old folk song.
This is an impressive show featuring western railroads and trains. Somehow Kurland has managed to sidestep making patronizing archetypes out of the people in her photographs, unlike many of the photographers that seems to be following a bit closely in her footsteps. The flat light that all the photographs share helps tie together images of different sizes that might otherwise seem random, including portraits of her own son, photos of drifters, and landscapes both formal and informal..

I loved seeing the van that Kurland was traveling with- and the bed in it that she and her son seem to share. There is a lovely photo of her sleeping child inside it that is absolutely gorgeous, without being sentimental. These more intimate images add a personal dimension to the story and make it all the more engaging, even while I felt the vulnerability of the mother and child all the more strongly for the indifferent surroundings.

One of my favorite images (above) is titled "Keddie Wye", a location in the Sierra Nevadas. Image courtesy Mitchell-Innes & Nash

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