Justine Kurland — He sleeps where he falls
He sleeps where he falls
Past: April 2 → May 4, 2011
In this series, photographed during a nine-month road trip, living in a van with her 6-year-old son, Justine Kurland focuses on nomadic subcultures: train-hoppers, hitchhikers, wilderness squatters, wayfarers, and drifters. Her work draws upon the nineteenth-century landscape tradition of depicting a perfect place. The photographs are narratives gleaned from America’s dream of itself: a collective identity based on firm faith in the inalienable right to freedom. These images are portals into the not quite real yet not quite fictional realm of the American frontier.
The pastoral and utopian themes explored in her earlier work are here cut with a new sense of urgency, borne straight out of the struggle to leave home because it did not feel like home, to go it alone, to give up what society has to offer, to say “fuck you” to parents, God, and country. A forbidding realism and an increasingly matter-of-fact quality in Kurland’s new work has subsumed the earlier nostalgia for edenic nature. It forces whatever rarified traces of idealism that remain into stark relief — like a child’s fragile toy in the carbon-colored landscape of a geologic catastrophe, or a tree-dappled ray of light being dissolved by the unruliness of young man’s beard.
Of course, in a larger sense, the struggle is the artist’s own, as she too has realized the necessity of a nomadic life to the lifeblood of her art.