Coinciding with his first solo museum exhibition in North America, Neighbors presents more than 15 years of Roe Ethridge’s photographs, which typically and wryly collapse distinctions between commercial, conceptual and personal uses of photography. Divided into three ‘chapters’, the central section spans the American photographer’s entire oeuvre, from his early self-published projects to his most recent work, bookended by two almost inscrutable series in his signature deadpan style: family snapshots of grey, rural beach scenes, and images of farm animals – turkey, pigs, goats – to conclude. Rendering the mundane peculiar, hilarious even, Neighborshaphazardly traces the evolution of Ethridge’s attempt to bombard his viewers with a heady mixture of imagery, subverting the stylistic tropes of each genre as it relishes in the oddities of image-making and viewing.
Included in Neighbors is an essay by Kevin Moore, the curator of Ethridge’s mid-career survey Roe Ethridge: Nearest Neighbor, which leads the 2016 FotoFocus Biennial at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. The title of the exhibition refers to the photographic term “nearest neighbor”, a type of sampling used when resizing a digital image. Like the title of the book, it also alludes to the personal nature of Ethridge’s work, as he frequently includes his family and friends, as well as himself, as subjects in his images, including his editorial assignments. Flouting distinctions between sentimental and commercial photography, Ethridge’s practice explores the ways in which our daily immersion in layers of imagery both mediate and generate meaning in our lives.
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