Image credit © Steven Rubin "Grandma Rosie’s Kitchen, 1983" courtesy Drkrm
727, S. Spring Street
CA 90014 Los Angeles
hours: wednesday-saturday 12-6 pm
sunday 12-4 pm and by appointment
| Published ||May 18, 2012 at 03:29pm|
| Seen ||983 times|
Drkrm, Photography, Los Angeles, United-States
Saturday April 28, 2012 - Saturday May 26, 2012 - Event ended.
In 1982, with a camera but no car and little money, Steven Rubin hitchhiked around Maine, heading inland from the coast and finding his way to this remote region where the photographs in this exhibit were taken, living for a time in an abandoned cabin without electricity, heat, or running water. When the winter proved too cold, he accepted a bare mattress in the corner of a family's mobile home. He eventually became a fixture in the community and they embraced him, at least for a time. Over the years he returned for numerous visits.
Maine’s Route One winds its way along a coastline graced by scenic vistas, picturesque fishing villages anchored by lobster shacks, seaside resorts and the vacation homes of millionaires. This is the Maine featured in tourist brochures and embedded in our collective vision of the state. But there exists another Maine, a land of perennial poverty just beyond the interstate. It is home to the people portrayed here. Long term residents of the backwoods, they live in scattered dwellings whose distance from the coast is measured in more than miles. Here they remain exiled from the American Dream and from the description on the state license plates which reads Vacationland.
"Rubin sought to avoid the stereotypes of people broken by their struggles or heroically pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. Influenced not only by legendary photographer Dorothea Lange but also anthropologist Clifford Geertz, Rubin aimed at creating a body of work that functioned as a "thick description," a finely detailed document for understanding the context of human actions. Achieving that goal required time." Tara Godvin--Time magazine
"Dying languages need to be recorded and studied because they present a unique way of looking at the world, a different filter. Dying subcultures, like the one shown in Vacationland, do too. This is particularly true when, like here, they're honestly captured. That said, in his best photos Steven Rubin goes beyond documentation. He reaches intimacy with his subjects by treating them like family. In that sense, Rubin comes closer to Richard Billingham taking photos of his own alcoholic father and obese mother in the photobook “Ray’s a Laugh” than to Dorothea Lange recording the plight of poor Americans for the Farm Security Administration during the 1930’s. In Billingham, tenderness cancels out much of the judgment; the photos turn your stomach and warm up your heart at the same time. The same is true of Vacationland."
-- Patricio Maya on Vacationland
This body of work is an homage to the strength of these families who must struggle on a daily basis to keep body and soul together. The photographs are offered with gratitude and admiration to those who generously opened their doors and shared their lives with a flatlander. These black and white images record periods in the 1980s and 90s, with briefer visits extending into the 2000s. The photographs depict life lived in a particular time and place, authentic and uncalculated.
Currently an Assistant Professor of Art at Penn State University, Steven Rubin worked for more than twenty years as a freelance photojournalist and documentary photographer. His photographs have been published domestictically in The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Time, Newsweek and The Village Voice, and internationally in Stern, GEO, Focus, L’Express and The London Independent Magazine. His work has been exhibited across the United States. He is the recipient of the Leica Medal of Excellence, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard and an Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellowship. A graduate of Reed College in Portland, Oregon, he obtained his MFA in Visual Arts from the University of California, San Diego.