LONDON.- The Magnum Gallery
is presenting American Geography, an exhibition of works by the American photographer Matt Black, presented at its 63 Gee Street location and online, from 23 September to 17 December 2021. Premiering in the UK, American Geography explores themes of inequality against the backdrop of the American Dream. The exhibition coincides with the launch of Blacks eponymous book by Thames & Hudson this Autumn.
For American Geography, Matt Black travelled from 2014 to 2020 over 100,000 miles, through 46 states, finding that he could cross the country without ever crossing above the poverty line.
Visiting communities with a poverty rate above 20 percent, each two hours or less away from each other, he created an alternate map of the U.S. exposing its deep and prevalent inequalities. What began as a story of individual, isolated communities grew into a portrait of an increasingly divided and unequal America, created during a time of rising disparity and disunion.
Southern farm towns, Texas borders with Mexico, and the post-industrial towns of the Midwest are some of the regions depicted in this ambitious body of work. Through striking black and white images, significant socio-political issues are elevated to a national conversation, challenging viewers to ask what Americas future might be.
These hierarchies of power are what the work is exploring, who gets what and when and where, and who gets to say what America is. Thats what Im talking about: America from the ground level is very different. These places feed the raw materials for that American story to unfold elsewhere. Theres a build-in sense of disempowerment that goes with that. Anyone whos from a place like this knows the feeling very well. I tried to harness and internalize that feeling as much as possible, the tragedy and disillusionment that goes along with that. I used that to inform the pictures. --Matt Black.
Magnum features a selection of these images including the spectacular panoramic street landscape Columbus, North Dakota, 2017, imbued with a sense of nostalgia and loneliness; and the iconic Alturas, California, from 2016, depicting the mysterious silhouette of a cowboy, the epitome of the American West.
Further highlights of the exhibition include Burning tires, Corcoran, California, 2014 showing the balance between desertic nature and industrial smoke, and stressing the tension between the natural world and human influence.
Matt Black (b. 1970) lives in Californias Central Valley, a rural, agricultural area in the heart of the state. His work has focused on themes of geography, inequality, and the environment in his native region and in related places.
Since 2014, he has travelled over 100,000 miles across 46 states for his project American Geography. Other works include The Dry Land, about the impact of drought on Californias agricultural communities, and The Monster in the Mountains, about the disappearance of 43 students in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero. Both of these projects, accompanied by short films, were published by The New Yorker.
His work has appeared regularly in TIME Magazine, The New Yorker, The California Sunday Magazine, and other publications. He has been honored three times by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Prize, including their top honor for journalism. In 2015, he received the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Award for Humanistic Photography, and was named a senior fellow at the Emerson Collective. He lives in Exeter, a small town in the Central Valley.