Monday, November 28, 2011

American Idol (part one of an on-going project)


Hobby Lobby, KS
Hobby Lobby, KS


Farmington, NM
Farmington, NM

Thrift Store, KS
Thrift Store, KS

Jefferson City, MO
Jefferson,MO


NYC
NYC


Topeka, KS
Topeka, KS

Thift Store, MO
Thrift Store, KS

Since arriving in the USA I have been working separately on three on-going photo projects which explore the notion of the American Idol. Until recently these individual bodies of work have been very much independent from one another, yet over time all of them have grown and developed very much in parallel and my method of working on them has been very similar in nature. Recently, whilst editing these series for possible publication at Get The Picture, the photo/collective I am a member of, I realized that these three photo series could actually sit well together as three separate chapters of the same long term project. This idea is not entirely a new one for me either as it was first touched upon last year in my interview with Sam Dickey at Amerikana Magazine, but it has taken till now to fully realize it's union and possible potential. Below is an extract from that interview:

"One project you’ve been working on has to do with images of US presidents. Can you discuss this project and what, if anything, you’ve learned about the American Presidency in the course of it?

Well, I terms of passing an exam, I’m afraid I have not learned that much. In fact a lot of what I have learnt about the Presidency has come through listening to the people I’ve met here – an oral history. This project, which is still in its early stages, is really an extension of two other series I am also working on about Elvis Presley and Jesus Christ and comes from a similar place. This project has felt a bit like I am photographing a kind of sediment – a history that has filtered down through time and settled here in the present - all these powerful leaders who at one time stood for so much have now washed up on the shores of the here and now, so to speak - their images have anyway, and then these images become culturally recycled in one form or another, whether it is in advertising, a T-shirt design, a record sleeve, a public monument, or just surface in the clutter of a thrift store. The presidents have become symbols - powerful historical markers and it has been interesting to see how and where they reappear. Right now I am keeping my eyes open and simply recording these appearances and trying to be aware of the context I discover them in, in a hope it will inform me somehow of who they were and what they stood for. It’s really a psychic history lesson I’m giving myself. This is why I like thrift stores so much. It is where all these great once new ideas, fads and fashions, heroes, villains and icons eventually all seem to end up. Walking around American thrift stores is like viewing a kaleidoscope of American culture past all under one roof - It gives me a strange kind of perspective which I understand, but find difficult to put into words."
The photographs in this post come from part one this series, under the working title of  "The King of Kings & I". later I will discuss this project further with images from part two.
Overland Park, KS
Shawnee, KS
Jefferson, MO
The full Amerikana interview can be viewed here: 

2 comments:

  1. this particular series should give a reason to pause and reflect on what religion has done and what it does. I personally think this will not happen since most religious people live in the "here and now" seldom looking back or forward in a critical way.

    Powerful stuff Simon!

    Jan

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  2. As always Jan, thanks for dropping by and making comment. These 3 series are still in their early stages although I've been working on them for a while now, on and off. How I have photographed these Idols has changed and grown too over time and it will be interesting to see where they eventually go. It's certainly an interesting investigation. Thanks again.

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