Paul Graham's photographs touch upon the social fracture of America — the great divide — between included and excluded, white and black, have and have-not. It is a simple topic, shunned these days or only dealt with in clichéd photo-journalism. American Night embraces this neglected territory in a series of shocking images which lodge firmly in our consciousness as they negotiate the boundaries of art and document.
The majority of the images are high key photographs which give the feeling of stepping out of a sheltered place into bright sunlight, temporarily blinding the viewer with an overwhelming whiteness. Drained of colour, shadow and form, they resonate with the lives of those they portray walking, carrying, waiting and wandering in the bleached landscape. Then suddenly the sequence snaps to a vibrant full colour image of a freshly minted ‘dream home’ — blue sky, green grass and a verdant palette that is perfect beyond attainment — before returning to the glare of this endless emptiness. A dense series of dark street portraits also disrupts this narrative of light, adding a claustrophobic intensity to the searing reality of the dispossessed in contemporary America.
Published by steidlMACK